With just a few months to go until the Olympics in Athens, an American track star has been barred from the Games and stripped of her titles for using performance-enhancing drugs. And this may just be the beginning of a widening steroid scandal among top American athletes.
Sprinter Kelli White was considered a top prospect for gold in the Summer Olympics. Last year, when the charges of drug use first came up, White denied them.
"I have never taken any substance to enhance my performance," said White in August, 2003.
But now, in a statement, White says: "I have not only cheated myself, but also my family, friends and sport. I am sorry for the poor choices I have made."
She says she will help in the investigation and thinks that other athletes will be charged.
Her lawyer, Jerrold Colton, says this goes beyond Kelli White. “Kelli White, in my opinion, is probably just the tip of the iceberg," said Colton.
White is being barred from competition under new rules that allow U.S. Olympic officials to punish athletes for drug use even if they don't flunk drug tests. Now, all the officials need is what they call documentary evidence of drug use.
White is one of several athletes linked to BALCO, a San Francisco Bay area laboratory whose owner has been indicted for selling illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He denies any wrongdoing.
Among other athletes who have testified in the BALCO investigation are Olympic sprint champion Marion Jones, who has staunchly denied any drug use. This week her lawyer went on the offensive, demanding that U.S. Olympic officials retest any of her blood or urine samples if they suspect something. Jones threatens to sue if she's barred from the Olympics.
"I'm not going to just sit down and let someone or a group of people or an organization, take away my livelihood because of a hunch," Jones said.
But sprinter Maurice Green says he supports tough enforcement of anti-doping rules.
"There is no room in our sport for drug cheaters whatsoever," said Green.
A growing drug scandal now has U.S. Olympic officials worried about winning all the gold they had anticipated.