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Gatekeeper for clean sports

Don Catlin, one of the world’s top antidoping researchers, is tired of chasing down drugs. Now, he wants to help clean athletes prove their innocence.

Sleuth: Mr. Catlin has led drug-testing teams at three Olympic Games and will play a supporting role this year in Beijing.

Christa Case Bryant

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The back lot behind Barry’s Plumbing doesn’t look like a fitting place for one of sport’s greatest sleuths to set up shop. The narrow alleyway is unmarked, as is the plain brick building – a former clothing manufacturing shop. Google Maps will not get you here.

But then again, fame and fancy office space aren’t what Don Catlin is after. It’s illegal performance-
enhancing drugs he’s targeting.

Antidoping czars plead for his help. Dopers dread it. His team was, after all, the one that cracked the designer steroid at the heart of the California BALCO scandal – arguably the biggest doping ring unearthed since East Germany’s program, involving more than a dozen athletes including track star Marion Jones and baseball giant Barry Bonds.

“[Chief BALCO investigator] Jeff [Novitsky] called me one day,” recalls Dr. Catlin, chuckling. “He’s reading me an e-mail that he lifted from somewhere and it said something like, ‘Catlin’s on to it [the drug]. Better move to another one.’”

One of the world’s most respected names in the science of doping, Catlin spent 25 years pioneering a global antidoping model in the Olympic lab at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). He oversaw the Olympic drug-testing labs at the 1984, 1996, and 2002 Games, and is playing a supporting role in Beijing.

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