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Friday, April 14, 2000
New USOC drug boss: We'll catch the cheaters

 BOSTON (AP) -- Vowing to "catch the cheaters," Terry Madden took over Friday as chief executive officer of the new U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

 Madden, who resigned as chief of staff to U.S. Olympic Committee president Bill Hybl, said the new independent agency plans to conduct more than 5,000 tests on athletes next year, at least half of those tests with no advanced notice.

 The agency will have a budget of more than $6 million in its first year, including $2 million in research to come up with better tests for existing performance-enhancing drugs and to stay up to speed with new drugs that might come along.

 The new agency also will have the power to punish the athletes.

 "We will be the prosecutors of America's athletes," Madden said at the USOC's executive committee meeting. "We will protect the innocent but we're going to catch the cheaters and we're going to aggressively prosecute those athletes.

 "In the next two years we hope to make an impact, beginning Oct. 1 of this year, so that when we come around to Salt Lake City, the games will be clean for America's athletes."

 Former Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter, who will serve as chairman of the agency, said the time is right for a worldwide push against doping in sports.

 "Everyone senses this is it," Shorter said, citing a confluence of events from the Tour de France doping scandal to the Olympic drug summit to the Salt Lake City bribery scandal that led to a focus on cheating. "We are at the point where this has to end."

 Doping at the elite level, Shorter said, is so pervasive that many athletes feel they have no choice but to take drugs to compete.

 "The athletes really feel that as it stands today, if the EPO test and the blood test for human growth hormone and the carbon isotope test aren't in place for Sydney, yes, they will be at a disadvantage," Shorter said. "There's almost a sense of resignation. Their attitude is we want to be tested for everything.

 "Any 14-year-old aspiring strength or endurance athlete in the world today who really wants to emulate his or her star knows that the way things stand they will have no choice but to go on these drugs."

 Madden acknowledged the influence of professional athletes on the sports culture and said he will work with the pro leagues and their players unions to bring them in line with Olympic drug guidelines. But Madden knows it won't be easy. The NBA recently announced it would ban androstenedione, only to see the players association reject the ban.

 "I think the NBA will resolve this issue in favor of banning andro," Madden said. "I think this just needs to be worked through with the union."

 The new agency is starting at "ground zero," Madden said, with no staff at the moment.

 "We need to be up and running in five months. We're going to do it," he said. "We'll conduct over 5,000 tests in 2001. Right now I think drug control at the USOC did 26 percent no-advanced-notice tests in 1999. That percentage will gradually grow. Our target level the first year will be a minimum of 50 percent no-advanced-notice testing as opposed to in-competition testing. We're going to show up unannounced and test our athletes."

 The new agency takes the prosecution of athletes out of the hands of the national governing bodies of the sports.

 "The NGBs wanted out of this business," Madden said. "They were the prosecutors at level one, so in effect they were prosecuting an athlete that was in their system, who they were hoping would win medals for them."

 "No matter what people's intentions," Shorter said, "the system had an inherent conflict of interest. That conflict of interest always had to have an effect on the efficiency of the system and the speed at which things got done.

 "Now this body is going to be truly independent. It's somewhere between the government and the USOC. We've received funding from both parties, and we're expected to be independent."

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