Olympic sprinter Michelle Collins received an eight-year ban for drug violations, the first time an athlete connected to BALCO Laboratories has been banned without a positive drug...

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Olympic sprinter Michelle Collins received an eight-year ban for drug violations, the first time an athlete connected to BALCO Laboratories has been banned without a positive drug test, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced yesterday.

Collins’ penalty is the harshest among the 13 sanctioned athletes linked to the Burlingame, Calif., nutrition company at the center of the biggest drug scandal in sports history. The longest ban had been four years, for Regina Jacobs and Alvin Harrison. Collins’ penalty was doubled because she refused to cooperate with investigators or admit guilt.

The ruling by the American Arbitration Association could signal problems for sprint stars Tim Montgomery and Chryste Gaines: They are scheduled to argue before the Court of Arbitration for Sport next year that officials have no grounds to ban them because they did not fail a drug test.

The anti-doping agency wants to sanction them with evidence similar to that against Collins — e-mails, handwritten calendars and lab results that indicated previous drug use.

The ruling, by a three-member panel, perhaps sets a precedent for these so-called non-analytical positive cases. Panelists said the evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the 2000 Olympic 400-meter runner violated drug codes.

A lawyer representing Collins said she will appeal. Collins, 33, can take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS decisions are final.

“Michelle Collins has voluntarily submitted to more than 30 tests, and every single one of those tests has come up negative,” Chicago-based lawyer Michael W. Coffield said in a prepared statement.

Arbitrators accepted the anti-doping agency’s charges that Collins used the designer steroid THG, testosterone cream and the blood-boosting drug EPO. The panel heard testimony from Kelli White, who accepted a two-year ban after admitting she took drugs provided by BALCO. White gave the panel a virtual road map to understanding the evidence in Collins’ case.

Drug testers also presented FedEx receipts for items sent by BALCO founder Victor Conte Jr. to Collins.

George Williams, the 2004 Olympic men’s track coach who trained Collins since 2002, called the punishment too harsh.

“It doesn’t seem fair,” he said. “Sometimes they go too far with these things.”

Collins was stripped of her U.S. and world 200-meter indoor titles from the 2003 season. USA Track & Field awarded national runner-up Allyson Felix the American title.

Amphetamines might affect steroids policy in baseball

NEW YORK — A deal to change baseball’s steroids policy might be hanging on a little green pill that has long been the drug of choice in major-league clubhouses.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association have been haggling in recent weeks over whether amphetamines are performance-enhancing drugs. If they determine they are, then players could be tested for their presence up to four times a season. If not, then the drugs would be treated like cocaine, heroin or marijuana, and baseball could test for them only if it has “probable cause.”

“We think they’re (performance-enhancing),” one major-league official told the New York Daily News. “The union doesn’t.”

Union officials declined to comment. But one veteran player, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he expected the two sides to agree that amphetamines are performance-enhancing drugs.

“Oh, greenies — that’s one of the classics,” said Gary Wadler, a New York University medical professor and a board member of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Greenies have been one of baseball’s worst-kept secrets for decades, and many say that if amphetamines are added to the test list, it could mean a major change in the game. Many clubhouses have separate pots of coffee for players and coaches, with the players’ variety sometimes carrying more than caffeine.

In baseball, the use of greenies or “beans” has been common in the major leagues for at least 30 years, several veteran managers and coaches have said.

A veteran player said he couldn’t get through a season without amphetamines. “I’m clean all winter — I swear,” he said. But “there’s no way I can’t do it during the season. The season’s too long.”

One manager recently said his players have to accurately judge the length of rain delays so they know when to take their greenies.