DENVER – American sprinter Kelli White accepted a two-year drug ban Wednesday, costing her a trip to the Athens Olympics and every medal she won during the past four years.
White tested positive for the stimulant modafinil (search) at last year's world championships and U.S. nationals. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (search) said it also found evidence she used undetectable steroids and the endurance-enhancing hormone erythropoietin.
The USADA, based in nearby Colorado Springs, said some evidence was obtained through documents from the federal investigation into the case involving previously unknown drugs made by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO (search), near San Francisco.
"In doing this, I have not only cheated myself, but also my family, friends and sport," White said in a statement issued by her attorney. "I am sorry for the poor choices I have made."
The 27-year-old sprinter said she plans to compete again when the ban ends in May 2006.
White is the first athlete to be suspended based on information from the BALCO case. The Bay Area drug company is accused of illegally distributing steroids and performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
The Senate this month released information in the BALCO case to Olympic officials, who requested the materials so they could be sure to field a clean team in Athens.
Five-time Olympic medalist Marion Jones (search) said last week she would sue USADA if it prevents her from going to Athens without a positive drug test, but White decided against fighting the suspension.
"If given the opportunity, there is so much I would do differently," White said. "Unfortunately, we cannot go back in time. I can only go forward and make sure I do the right things from here on out.
"Although this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, I know I am doing the right thing and will continue to do so in the future."
Modafinil carries a public warning and disqualification from the event where the positive test took place, but the use of EPO and the previously undetectable steroid THG means all of White's results since Dec. 15, 2000, will be wiped out.
That means she will be stripped of her gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters at last year's world championships in Paris, and a gold and bronze at the 2001 worlds in Edmonton.
Torri Edwards of the United States now becomes the 2003 world champion in the 100, with Zhanna Block of Ukraine moving up to silver and Chandra Sturrup of Bahamas to bronze.
The new 200 world champion is Russia's Anastaiya Kapachinskaya, who faces losing her world indoor title and a two-year ban of her own after testing positive for steroids. Edwards moves up to silver and France's Muriel Hurtis gets the bronze
Edwards also was declared the 2003 outdoor champion in the 100 and 200, her first two national titles.
USADA chief executive Terry Madden said he admired White for acknowledging her mistakes.
"It is not easy to admit you have done wrong and then stand up to do something about it," he said.
The International Association of Athletics Federations also commended White for stepping forward and the USADA for pursuing the matter. Track's world governing body had been one the harshest critics in the handling of doping cases involving U.S. athletes.
"Because this athlete has signed to accept her suspension, we have avoided further legal action which is usually costly, often time consuming and also keeps our sport in the news for the wrong reason," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said.
White agreed to help the USADA and intends to ask for early reinstatement from the IAAF.
"If I can make a difference in cleaning up the sport, I will have done more for the sport than anything I could have done on the track," she said.
Davies said athletes usually serve at least a year's suspension before the IAAF considers reinstatement.
White's coach, Remi Korchemny, was one of four men indicted earlier this year on charges of illegally distributing steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to athletes as part of the BALCO probe.
Greg Anderson, the personal trainer for baseball slugger Barry Bonds; BALCO founder Victor Conte; and the lab's vice president, James Valente, also were indicted. All have pleaded innocent.
White said she expects other athletes will be charged in the case, but couldn't go into specifics because she is part of the investigation.
U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Jim Scherr commended White for coming forward.
"If there are other athletes who have engaged in cheating, we would encourage them to follow this example and atone for their mistakes by cooperating with USADA," Scherr said.
Before the announcement, IOC president Jacques Rogge urged national and international bodies to complete doping cases before the Aug. 13 opening ceremony in Athens.
"We would not want to have the embarrassment of having a case that is pending and still to be discussed," he said.