NEWS

Blacklist grows longer

At the Athens Olympics, even before the Games began, more athletes than ever were excluded after they were found to have used anabolic steroids, the result of new tests and the WADA’s more aggressive policy of making spot checks before the Games, both in the Olympic Village and in the athletes’ home countries. The blacklist of banned athletes has been growing by the day. Among the first was the American Calvin Harrison, silver medalist in Sydney in the 400 meters and gold medalist in the 400-meter relay in the World Championships in Paris in 2003. He was found to have taken the stimulant modafinil in the US championship in 2003 and was expelled from the American federation. The same fate awaited his compatriot Torri Edwards, champion in the 100 meters, for using the same substance this April in Martinique. The Australian cyclist Jobie Dajka, world keirin champion in 2002, was dumped from the Australian team after traces of his DNA were found on vials containing banned substances. Romanian 100-meter hurdles champion Carmen Zamfire will also be watching the Games from home after the Romanian national sports federation imposed a two-year ban on her after traces of the anabolic steroid stanozol were found in her urine sample. Although the trace was very small (a nanogram per milliliter), the Romanians decided to crack down. Unfortunately, Greeks athletes who have been charged with similar improprieties have not been restricted to Katerina Thanou and Costas Kenteris. Swimmer Tonia Mahaira and two baseball players have already been banned. Mahaira refused to submit to a second test after a spot check by WADA and admitted she had used EPO for «medical reasons.» Two Greek Americans on the baseball team were also banned for taking illegal substances. They were Andrew James Brack, found to be using diuretics, and Derek Nicholson, who had taken stanozol. Spanish canoeist Jovino Gonzales and Kenyan boxer David Munyasia were also found to have used banned substances. Initial samples from three Russian athletes were also found to be positive for anabolic steroids but their names were not released pending a second test. Sureyya Ayhan, Turkey’s great hope for a medal in the 1,500 meters race, was called for a spot check on July 25 by WADA and gave samples from another woman. The ruse was discovered and she was excluded. In another case, a WADA team looked for a South American canoeist and eventually found him hiding in a basement.