USA Track and Field's membership has voted in favor of a lifetime ban for first-time steroid users, in the final day of the American athletics body's 2003 annual meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The ban puts teeth in the "Zero Tolerance" policy, which was proposed in the wake of the October discovery of the designer steroid THG (tetrahydrogestrinone). The drug has turned up in doping tests of four American athletes and Britain's European 100-meter champion Dwain Chambers.
The U.S. athletes committee approved the ban unanimously, but there was one "no" vote in the full delegation when the matter was brought to a final vote.
The "Zero Tolerance" measure takes effect immediately and is not retroactive, so the positive THG tests by Regina Jacobs, Kevin Toth, John McEwan and an unidentified fourth U.S. athlete will not lead to lifetime bans.
The exact wording of the regulation takes note of possible legal challenges to the lifetime ban under the U.S. Amateur Sports Act, which forbids more restrictive U.S. federation bans than any global governing body.
USA Track and Field's position is that the lifetime ban is not more restrictive than IAAF rules, and thereby allowed under the Sports Act, because the IAAF penalty runs from two years to a potential life ban. But requests for clarification from the IAAF have gone unanswered.
USA Track and Field has asked the International Association of Athletics Federations to adopt the lifetime steroid ban, toughening its penalty from the current two-year minimum ban for a first offense.