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NFL May Retest Samples

The move is weighed as a track and field scandal involving a 'designer' steroid widens.

October 20, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

Even if an NFL player has passed a steroid test this season, he might not be in the clear.

The league is considering retesting samples in search of the "designer" steroid at the center of a developing track and field scandal.

"We have been asked about retroactively testing samples that we have," league spokesman Greg Aiello said. "The answer is, we're not going to rule that out."

Aiello said the league plans to add the steroid, tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG, to its list of banned substances by the end of the season, if not sooner. The NFL has the right to test for banned substances, including steroids, as part of its collective bargaining agreement with the players' union.

"It's obviously helpful," Aiello said when asked if the drug program is aided by good relations between the league and NFL Players Assn. "We've been working on it for 10 years, ever since the new CBA. We've expanded the drug program that we had, and it's supported by the union."

The decision to retroactively test the existing samples is up to the league's management council. Because THG will be added to the list of banned substances, the league will test for it from now on.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials announced last week that they had unearthed widespread use of THG by track and field athletes this summer and linked its development and distribution to a Burlingame, Calif.-based nutritional supplement laboratory, Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, founded by Victor Conte.

In e-mails to news organizations, Conte has said he knows of about 40 athletes who have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in San Francisco beginning this week. Aiello said he is not aware of any NFL players among the athletes who have been called to testify.

According to the New York Daily News, Oakland Raider linebacker Bill Romanowski and former Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway are listed on BALCO's "database of world-class Olympic and professional athletes."

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