'Clean sports' watchdogs are drawing on invoices, shipment records, and other evidence not related to testing regimens.
Drug-cheat athletes beware: You can lose your career, your trophies, and your reputation even if you don't fail an actual drug test.
That may be one vital lesson from the sad case of Olympian Marion Jones, say antidoping experts and officials.
New coalitions of law-enforcement and watchdog agencies are working to clean up sports, they say. They can draw on invoices, shipment records, and other evidence not related to testing regimens. Thus Jones's fall from grace may mark a new era in the fight to keep athletics free of performance-enhancing substances.
"[Jones] has been competing for many years and had delivered many samples, and none of them tested positive," says David Homan, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal. "Now we have that extra armory of enforcement agencies, and that's probably the only reason that [she] confessed.
On Oct. 8, Jones handed back five Olympic medals won seven years ago in the Sydney Games. In addition, she agreed to forfeit all winning results dating back to Sept. 1, 2000.
The US Olympic Committee will return the medals to the International Olympic Committee, which will decide what to do with them. After long denying she had ever used performance enhancers, Jones admitted Friday that she'd taken the designer steroid "the clear" from September 2000 to July 2001. "The clear" has been linked to BALCO, the lab at the center of the steroids scandal in professional sports.
Her admission came as part of a guilty plea to lying to federal investigators about using steroids. She will be sentenced early in 2008 and could get up to six months in prison.