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Spring 2004
Leveling the Playing Field
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Illustration with Various Medical Elements
A UCLA laboratory takes on the latest designer steroids
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Don Catlin is in a race. Part marathon, part sprint, the contest pits the 65-year-old Catlin against world-class Olympians, champion cyclists and professional football players. The endeavor requires endurance, persistence and discipline.

Catlin isn't out to break records or earn medals. Rather, the Department of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology professor and his team at the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory seek to thwart those who create or use illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Catlin started the lab in 1982 at the request of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. The only drug-testing facility in the United States accredited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the UCLA lab analyzed urine samples for the three Olympic Games that have been held in the United States since 1984 (Los Angeles in '84, Atlanta in '96 and Salt Lake City in '02). Although the lab will not be testing for this summer's Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Catlin will provide consultation and support through his role on the IOC's Medical Commission. In addition to servicing the IOC, the lab also does testing for the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Department of Defense. Altogether, it tests about 30,000 samples annually.

"The Olympic Analytical Laboratory is the only lab that we use for NCAA work it's the best sports drug-testing laboratory in the United States," says Frank Uryasz, founder and president of the National Center for Drug Free Sport, Inc., which administers the NCAA's drug-testing program. "When it comes to deterring drug use in sports in the United States, the Olympic Analytical Laboratory is a national treasure. UCLA has committed its facilities and its good scientists to this cause for over 20 years, and sports organizations are forever grateful for that contribution."

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