Hundreds of British athletes to be tested for new 'designer steroid'

The biggest drugs scandal to hit sport was looming last night, with scores of the world's leading athletes facing lengthy bans for use of a previously unknown steroid.

The biggest drugs scandal to hit sport was looming last night, with scores of the world's leading athletes facing lengthy bans for use of a previously unknown steroid.

Testing will begin in Britain within the next few days on more than 1,000 recently stored samples. The tests are for THG, a performance-enhancing steroid "tweaked" by scientists in the United States to evade normal doping checks. A test specially designed to detect THG has only recently been developed, and the decision to recheck samples so comprehensively is unprecedented.

There are severe doubts over the future of Britain's number one sprinter Dwain Chambers, the fastest man in Europe and a serious contender for Olympic gold. Chambers admitted he had tested positive for THG, or tetrahydro-gestrinone. But he denied knowingly taking it.

The developments have set a timebomb for athletics authorities throughout the world, and could severely damage the future of the sport.

Bans for a number of other athletes, mainly American, could seriously threaten the quality of the 2004 Olympics in Athens. It has been reported that about 20 US athletes, including Olympic and world record holders have tested positive from samples taken at the US championships in June.

On Friday, the International Association of Athletics Federations announced all 400 urine samples it took at the World Athletics Championships in Paris in August would be unfrozen and retested for THG. National sporting bodies in Australia, Greece and Germany have also announced they would be re-examining recent batches of samples.

Michele Verroken, director of UK Sport's anti-doping unit, said that, in addition to the start of tests on the 1,000 samples stored at its Chelsea laboratory, action would be taken within the next couple of days to test any athletes known to have been training or competing in the United States.

David Moorcroft, chief executive of UK Athletics, stressed Chambers had not yet been suspended, saying the IAAF had the responsibility to see the process through.

He added that the latest process of investigating so-called "designer" steroids was "depressing", but said it was a price worth paying if the sport was to take dope-testing seriously.

Asked to compare the crisis with the previous spate of positive tests for the steroid nandrolone in the late Nineties by British athletes such as Doug Walker, Linford Christie and Mark Richardson, Mr Moorcroft said: "My suspicion is that this isn't about contaminated supplements, it's about the real McCoy cheating."

The discovery of THG was prompted this summer when an anonymous coach claimed that a number of top athletes were taking the drug.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - SThree Group - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: SThree Group has been...

Secondary Japanese Teacher, January 2015 - China

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Secondary Japanese TeacherRequ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes