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Chambers' Backup Test Also Positive

British sprinter faces a possible two-year suspension and could miss the 2004 Olympics. Montgomery testifies before the grand jury.

November 07, 2003|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

On the same day that Tim Montgomery, the world's fastest man, testified before a federal grand jury in San Francisco in the widening inquiry into drug use in sports, a source revealed Thursday that the backup urine sample of Dwain Chambers, Europe's fastest man, also tested positive for the steroid THG. It was the first case confirming evidence of the newly discovered designer drug.

Chambers, of Great Britain, faces the possibility of a two-year ban that could keep him out of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

An official announcement is expected perhaps as soon as today from track and field's worldwide governing body, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, as well as UK Athletics, the British track and field federation. The sample was analyzed this week at the International Olympic Committee-accredited lab at UCLA, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The disclosure of Chambers' backup test results came as Montgomery, the world-record holder in the 100-meter dash from North Carolina, testified before a federal grand jury convened amid reports tying the discovery and distribution of THG to a Bay Area business, Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

BALCO's founder, Victor Conte, is believed to be the target of the grand jury. He has denied wrongdoing.

The scope of the federal inquiry remains unclear. Associated Press reported that the investigation is looking into possible drug use by athletes as well as possible tax evasion by BALCO.

Internal Revenue Service agents were among those who searched BALCO's offices in Burlingame in September. Since then, nearly 40 athletes have been issued subpoenas, among them Montgomery, baseball stars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, boxer Shane Mosley and several NFL players, including Oakland Raider linebacker Bill Romanowski.

A subpoena is merely a request for documents or testimony and does not indicate an athlete is a target of the inquiry.

In addition to Chambers, four U.S. athletes are believed to have tested positive this summer for THG, including 1,500-meter champion Regina Jacobs, shotputter Kevin Toth and hammer thrower John McEwen. None has acknowledged a positive test. Toth and Jacobs appeared last week before the grand jury in San Francisco.

Chambers' attorney, Graham Shear, said in a statement issued Oct. 22 that the sprinter was not trying to cheat. The statement also said Chambers believed that any dietary supplements he had received -- from BALCO -- and then ingested were within international rules.

A half-dozen other track and field champions, meanwhile, tested positive this summer for the stimulant modafinil, a drug used to treat narcolepsy. Among them: Kelli White, winner of the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the world championships in August in Paris, and Calvin Harrison, gold medalist in Paris and at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney in the 1,600-meter relay. Sprinter Chryste Gaines, who also reportedly tested positive for the stimulant, testified before the grand jury Thursday.

The modafinil test results are based on a review of tests taken at the U.S. outdoor championships at Stanford in June. THG positives are linked to samples provided either at the U.S. championships or through some 200 out-of-competition tests taken throughout the summer.

Tests are divided into two samples, A and B. Chambers' B sample confirmed his positive A test, taken in Germany in August. Reports involving the U.S. athletes have been based on their A samples.

The possibility of more positive tests remains. The IAAF has said it intends to have the more than 400 samples taken in Paris at the championships this August re-tested. Results are likely to be known by the end of the month.

Montgomery, who last year in Paris lowered the 100-meter record to 9.78 seconds, declined to comment Thursday at the San Francisco courthouse. He is the partner of Olympic sprint champion Marion Jones; they have a son together.

In interviews over the course of this year with The Times, Montgomery has said he has been subjected since breaking the world mark to frequent out-of-competition drug testing. He also has said that he has always tested clean.

In an interview two months ago, Montgomery said he and Jones knew little about Conte. "He had promised me a deal to do a photo shoot

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Times wire services contributed to this report.

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