For much of the past three decades, Don Catlin has been on the front lines of the campaign against PEDs. The lab where he used to work, the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, was the first of its kind when it was founded in 1982. In it, he and his team developed a wide range of tests for PEDs including anabolic steroids, EPO (erythropoietin), and tetrahydrogestrinone (known as THG or "the clear" – the drug at the center of the BALCO scandal).
"Things are moving forward. But they're also stepping back," he says.
In particular, Armstrong's doping program, revealed in an October report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), gives Mr. Catlin pause. While scientists are better than ever at identifying banned substances, athletes still can game the system.
"We thought we had this whole problem nailed," he says. "We spent a lot of time trying to find the drugs and get them in pure form. But that doesn't deal with how you get the drug into the athlete, or the athlete sending in someone else's urine."
Others agree that the cat-and-mouse game of doping has changed from decades ago, when athletes were using cutting-edge PEDs that scientists couldn't detect. "I think the doping athlete today is looking to use tried-and-true doping agents in a manner to avoid detection, rather than find something currently undetectable," Dr. Stray-Gundersen says.
The financial advantage is clearly with the athletes.
"The annual budget for WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] is $28 million, which is the price of one good baseball player," Catlin says. "How do you expect to really catch guys with that kind of money?"