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The NFL battling frauds with molecular science

By JOANNE KORTH

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001


TAMPA -- Don't know how to tell authentic Super Bowl memorabilia from the fake stuff?

Check with a scientist.

In an effort to eliminate counterfeiting, more than 100 footballs used in Sunday's game will be marked with a strand of synthetic DNA. This is the second straight year the method has been used, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

Balls will be marked as they come off the field. They will be protected by tamper-proof labels and a DNA-marked certificate of authenticity.

The balls will be given to charities or sold on the NFL's Web site, McCarthy said.

The footballs will be marked by Professional Sports Authenticators of Newport Beach, Calif., the same company that attached DNA strands to the baseball and bat Hank Aaron used to hit his record-setting 715th home run in 1974.

According to Dave Gioia, vice president of PSA parent-company DNA Authentication Services, a counterfeiter has a 1-in-33-trillion chance of reproducing the DNA strand.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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