Several track athletes tested positive for a steroid that until recently was undetectable and now face suspensions that could bar them from the 2004 Athens Olympics, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday.
USADA chief executive officer Terry Madden called it a widespread ''conspiracy'' involving chemists, coaches and athletes that was brought to the agency's attention by an anonymous tip.
He said the inquiry began in June and has expanded to other U.S. professional sports, but wouldn't give specifics. He also refused to give details about the athletes or say how many tested positive for the steroid, known as tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG.
''What we have uncovered appears to be intentional doping of the worst sort,'' Madden said in a statement before his conference call from USADA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo. ''This is a far cry from athletes accidentally testing positive as a result of taking contaminated nutritional supplements.
''Rather, this is a conspiracy involving chemists, coaches and certain athletes using what they developed to be 'undetectable' designer steroids to defraud their fellow competitors and the American and world public who pay to attend sports events.''
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