Lab to research performance-enhancing drugs

SALT LAKE CITY -- The NFL has joined with the United States
Anti-Doping Agency and the University of Utah in forming a new drug
testing laboratory in Salt Lake City.

The lab, whose creation was announced on Monday, will conduct
research into the use and detection of prohibited and
performance-enhancing substances. The U.S. Olympic Committee, based
in Colorado Springs, Colo., will also be involved in the testing.

The NFL, the doping agency and the Salt Lake Organizing
Committee from the 2002 Winter Olympics are providing startup funds
for the laboratory. They will begin with facilities left over from
the Salt Lake Games.

"The elimination of dangerous performance-enhancing substances
from sports requires intensive state-of-the-art research on an
ongoing basis," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in a statement.

"The establishment of this new laboratory in partnership with
the USADA is an important step in this process."

The Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory will
complement UCLA's sports drug-testing lab, the only U.S. lab
certified by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is the
drug-testing arm of the International Olympic Committee.

It will take about a year for Salt Lake's lab to win similar
certification, meaning it won't be available for testing U.S.
athletes headed to this summer's Olympic Games in Athens.

The U.S. and Salt Lake Olympic committees provided $500,000 each
to start up the lab, the NFL is providing $1.1 million and the U.S.
Anti-Doping Agency another $1.5 million to operate the lab for five

"It won't change anything about our program other than it will
make available another testing lab," said NFL spokesman Greg

The NFL tests every player once a year for steroids and other
drugs and also conducts random tests. Urine samples are sent to the
UCLA lab, but the NFL sees value in having a backup testing and
research lab in Salt Lake City that builds off work done for the
2002 Winter Olympics.

Four members of the Oakland Raiders reportedly tested posted for
recently unmasked steroid THG. NFL officials, however, say that
since Oct. 6, when the existence of THG became known, there have
been no positive tests among the 2,000 players tested.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, as well as three other major leaguers
and one NFL player, were given steroids from a lab implicated in an
illegal distribution ring. The NFL player was identified as veteran
linebacker Bill Romanowski, who was released by the Raiders last
week after flunking a physical.

The players have denied using the steroids.