Angel Myers, who had a shot at winning five medals in swimming at the Seoul Olympics, is off the U.S. squad because she tested positive for a banned substance.
Myers' supporters, however, claim that birth control pills caused a false positive on the test, and said Myers would appeal the U.S. Olympic Committe's decision."We are not biochemists, but other things can be confused in the drug testing process. The drug test was erroneous," said Harriet Peak, one of the coaches for Myers' local swim team in Americus, Ga.
Peak said Myers was taking Ortho-Novum, a birth control pill that could have appeared in tests as a steroid.
U.S. Swimming, governing body for the sport, announced Sunday that Myers, winner of three events at the national trials, was disqualified from the Olympics next month for use of a banned drug. Team officials refused to disclose the drug.
But Myers' family issued a statement in Americus saying that she had been informed by the USOC that she was taken off the team "due to the fact that her urine sample tested positive for a steriod."
According to the statement, Myers was taking a legal prescription for Ortho-Novum, which "has almost identical characteristics to the steroid the USOC claims she was testing positive for. . . .
"Angel denies that she was taking this banned steriod or any other banned substance," the statement concluded.
"We are exploring our avenues of appeal," said Martha Fennessey, another coach with Myers' swim team in Americus.
Angel and her father, Kirt, who also coaches her, left Los Angeles shortly after the USOC decision was announced Sunday. She had been among some members of the U.S. team who had gathered in Los Angeles for processing prior to departing for Seoul.
Myers tested positive at the recent Olympic trials at Austin, Texas, during which she set two American records. In a statement, U.S. Swimming said initial tests of Myers were confirmed by a second urinalysis "in accordance with strictly controlled procedures outlined in the USOC-USS agreement on drug testing."
Although Myers' supporters claimed the birth control pills could have provided a false positive on the test, USOC spokesman Mike Moran said, "We stand by the integrity and validity of the test. . . .
"We have tested over 10,000 people since 1984. We have tested thousands of women, a significant number of them on birth control, and we have not had this problem before."
Moran said he was certain that Dr. Don Catlin and his staff, who run the drug testing lab at UCLA where the USOC tests are conducted, "were aware of the claims that Angel and her father were making."