Angel Myers, dropped from the U.S. Olympic swim team after testing positive for steroid use, was ordered suspended from competition through 1989, according to a decision announced by the U.S. Swimming board of review.
The three-member board, meeting to decide a penalty against the swimmer after her failure to have the test findings overturned in appeal, also invalidated Myers’ records and recalled the medals she won during the U.S. Long Course National Championships, the meet used to select the Olympic team.
The board also ordered Myers to undergo at least three random drug tests a year through 1992.
Myers, 21, was dropped from the Olympic team after tests revealed use of the steroid Nandrolone. Myers claimed unsuccessfully throughout the appeal process that her use of a birth-control pill had triggered a false reading.
“We find it regrettable that sanctions against Ms. Myers are necessary to enforce rules designed for fairness to all United States Swimming athletes,” the board said in a statement. “Harsher penalties were considered, however we felt that positive contributions to United States Swimming by Ms. Myers and her family, and the fact that this was a first-time infraction, required the recommendation of leniency on the part of the National Board of Review.”
Myers’ family, however, still contends Angel has not taken anabolic steroids, muscle-enhancing drugs banned by the International Olympic Committee.
“Angel is innocent,” her father and coach, Kirt Myers, said. “She has never taken anabolic steroids.”
The sample on which the tests were conducted was obtained during the long-course nationals in August, when Myers set U.S. records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and also won the 100-meter butterfly. Results of the tests were revealed Aug. 14.
Myers was subsequently dropped from the Olympic team and an arbitration panel later upheld the suspension.
Mike Fennessy, a lawyer from Myers’ hometown of Americus, Ga., helped present the swimmer’s appeal and has denounced the Olympic drug-testing system as flawed.
“The entire process violated due process rights,” he said. “She was never offered her due notice of the results.”
Mike Moran, a spokesman for the USOC, had responded that the organization has “total confidence in the integrity and validity (of the testing process).”
As to the specifics of the Myers’ complaint, Moran said that substances that birth control pills produce are easily detectable and can be recognized immediately.
“We have tested hundreds of women who had taken all sorts of birth control pills,” Moran said. “The level of substance which birth control pills produce is very easily detectable. “We know exactly what we’re looking for, what level.
“Birth control pills produce characteristics of a disqualifying substance, but the level and dosage (of the substance) is where it (disqualification) occurs.”
Under the swimming federation’s agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Myers faced a minimum 6-month suspension after the drug-test finding was upheld.