Five-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ian Thorpe showed "abnormal levels" of two banned substances in a doping test last year, the French sports daily L'Equipe reported on its Web site Friday.
Anti-doping officials in Australia threw out the case for lack of scientific proof, but the sport's governing body FINA wants the investigation reopened, the paper said.
Thorpe retired in November at age 24. He did not compete in another major international meet after the 2004 Olympics.L'Equipe said Thorpe turned up irregular levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone in a test on May 2006.
Synthetic versions of testosterone, the male hormone, can act like steroids to improve performance. Luteinizing hormone is released by the pituitary gland and produces testosterone in men.
FINA has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest tribunal in the sports world, to overturn a decision by Australia's anti-doping agency to close the case, L'Equipe said.
Gary Moller comments:
Thorpe is innocent until proven guilty; but there are some worrying signs that not all is right, including his unexplained loss of form last year and sudden retirement, just weeks after returning a dodgy test result. And why on Earth would the case be reopened by the international body (FINA), overriding the Australian Drugs Agency, at this late stage? We will just have to wait and see what happens and to find out why.
Let's talk about some of the background to this, in general. First of all, these kinds of reports make me feel sad; but they do not surprise me at all.
If 90% of triathletes use caffeine to boost performance, it should be of no surprise that some athletes progress or resort to using more powerful forms of enhancement. And it can be a surprise and a disappointment who is exposed as a cheat. A good example is sprinting great, Carl Lewis who just happened to be one of the most outspoken critics of drugs abuse. Lewis never let his arch rival, Ben Johnson, forget that he was a drugs cheat. Talk about the jettle calling the pot black!
Leutenising hormone is essential for male and female reproduction. In the male, it stimulates the production of testosterone. For sport, testosterone augementation increases muscle development, aggression and energy to train. It is usually combined with a mix of other drugs and hormones, including growth hormone. The end result is freakish musclularity and even skeletal growth. Good examples of chemically enhanced bodies can be be seen just about nightly on the wrestling programmes that grace the little screen.
The body responds to externally boosted testosterone by reducing its own natural production with the consequence that the male user's nuts shrivel. When the external source is later withdrawn, the user may suffer rapid loss of muscle and physical form, depression, lack of sex drive and infertility. A bit like what happens to the neutered tom cat.
Athletes get around drugs tests in all sorts of way, beginning with enlisting the aid of a good chemist. The first way is to have access to the latest drugs for which there is presently no test. This is what many sports stars had via Balco and Victor Conte a few years back.
Another tactic is to cycle drugs use out of season so that the athlete is clean during competition. If an athlete is called up for a random drugs test out of season then they ensure that they have a person on the inside to tip them off that a registered letter is about to be delivered to their home and they quickly disappear on holiday. They finally reappear to take delivery of the letter and to do the test once the diuretics and masking drugs have done their work. NZ decathlete, Simon Poelman was once exposed using this ploy (Poelman was later convicted of drug trafficking).
Another ploy, which is used with testosterone, is to carefully dribble the hormone into the body 24 hours a day, using rub-on gels। Done carefully, there is an ergogenic effect while keeping blood levels just below the threshold that might trigger a positive drugs test.
I get really angry when an athlete is exposed for sure as being a drugs cheat. Athletes do not do this cheating all alone. Taking drugs is the easy part; evading the doping tests is the hard part. Professional athletes are disposable gladiators and it is the team behind them that I despise - the squad of sports scientists, trainers, doctors and coaches who are knowingly in on the deal - The professionals that not only supply the knowledge and the drugs; but also the means of getting it into their bodies. They are the ones that know the intricate tricks for evading drugs tests and how to get the best benefits. The moment the athlete is exposed, they scuttle off into the darkness, leaving the cheat alone to hang out to dry in the media spotlight.
These psychopaths have no conscience about their part in this sorry business and are already busy working on the next young, impressionable future champion who is willing to do anything to please. The stakes for all are huge and the temptation to cheat is always present.