The "biggest doping conspiracy in sports history" is beginning to unravel, as a U.S. federal grand jury investigates Balco Labs, a supplement and nutrition company run by Victor Conte. Balco Labs client list — none of whom have been implicated at this time — includes Barry Bonds, Bill Romanowksi, and Olympic stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.

The substance in question is an underground "designer steroid" known as tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), a relative of the banned steroid trenbolone, which has been described as a "very sophisticated designer steroid created by some very sophisticated chemists" who are now under federal investigation. THG is not injectable: athletes place a few drops of the oil-based steroid under their tongues and then expected it would be processed quickly enough through their bodies to avoid detection.

My guess? One, while there will be some initial shock at the beginning of the investigation as names are revealed, sports fans really won't end up caring one way or the other in the end. Furthermore, tomorrow's generation of young athletes won't really understand what the brouhaha was all about to begin with: the pharmaceutical industry bombards us daily with messages about how we can get a performance advantage in our battles against headaches, PMS, allergies or aging. Why should athletes be held to a different standard? The illusion of modern sport holding some inherent Truth will have long disappeared by then.

Two, tetrahydrogestrinone will make it through the collective consciousness extremely quickly, and an underground economy will be born overnight. As of today, Google does not have a listing for THG, but it will soon join the likes of Vicodin, Viagra and Zoloft in the junk email boxes of the world.


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