Butch Reynolds and Randy Barnes, the two U.S. world record holders who, according to the International Amateur Athletic Federation, tested positive for anabolic steroids and have been suspended, yesterday fought back by accusing the IAAF of imprecise drug-testing procedures.

Little more than a month since sprinter Ben Johnson's readmittance to competition after a two-year ban for being detected at the 1988 Olympics as a steroid user, the beleaguered sport of track and field has been rocked by another major scandal involving banned, performance-enhancing substances.

The athletes involved are not going down without a fight.

Reynolds, the 400-meter record holder who won gold and silver medals in Seoul, and Barnes, the shot put record holder who won a silver medal in 1988, have adamantly denied using the substances cited by the IAAF and have attorneys working on their defenses.

Reynolds issued a statement through Advantage International, the Washington-based sports marketing and management firm that represents him, saying the positive test was due to "some fallacy in the drug testing system."

He said: "People who know Butch Reynolds know that I have always been one of the strongest proponents of random, year-round drug testing. I have never used steroids. I have taken drug tests five times over the past 10 months. Believe me, the results {from a meet in Monte Carlo Aug. 12} are completely inconsistent with my history and, to my knowledge, cannot be medically supported."

Reynolds's attorney in Columbus, Ohio, Greg Lashutka, could not be reached for comment.

Barnes strongly disputed the procedures used during his drug test Aug. 7 at a meet in Malmo , Sweden, saying "numerous departures from the IAAF's procedural guidelines for doping control . . . demonstrate the total unreliability of the test results."

Officials who took Barnes's urine sample failed to record the control numbers used on the envelope sealing the samples, according to documents filed by his attorney, John M. Dowd, the special counsel to Major League Baseball in the investigations of Pete Rose and George Steinbrenner. Without the numbers, there is "no reliable evidence that the tested samples belong to Mr. Barnes," the documents state.

A statement signed by Richard Hollander, an official of The Athletics Congress, track and field's governing body in the United States, said Barnes's urine samples were not sealed in his presence and that the control numbers used on the seal were added later, both violations of IAAF rules.

Hollander's report, included in the documents obtained yesterday from Dowd, also said the subsequent breach in confidentiality of the shot putter's tests violates IAAF rules, casting "doubt on the procedures as a whole."

"In six years of competition, I have never taken any prohibited substance," Barnes said in an affidavit to TAC asking for a stay of his suspension. "I have been subjected to dope tests on approximately 30 occasions since 1985 and have always tested negatively. I have always submitted to and passed every dope test administered to me, including random and 48-hour tests."

Under IAAF rules, a two-year suspension is mandatory for first-time steroid offenders, but TAC has its own rules that allow for a hearing on an appeal before honoring the IAAF suspension. IAAF officials are expected to wait for the result of the TAC hearing process before deciding whether to go ahead with the suspensions. There has been no word on when and where the athletes' hearings would take place.

Both men would miss the 1991 world championships in Tokyo and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona if suspended. Each would have been a favorite for a gold medal. Before the Olympics in 1988, Reynolds, from Columbus, ran the 400 meters in 43.29 seconds to break the nearly 20-year-old record of Lee Evans. Reynolds was favored to win the gold medal in Seoul but UCLA's Steve Lewis beat him in a U.S. sweep. Reynolds ran on the 4x400 relay team that won the gold medal.

Barnes, from Charleston, W.Va., set the outdoor record in the shot in May at 75 feet 10 1/4 inches. He took the record from East German Ulf Timmerman, who beat him for the gold medal in Seoul. Barnes also holds the indoor mark of 74-4 1/4.

"An athlete who tests positive is entitled to apply for a stay and to a hearing on that stay before the news of the positive drug test can be announced to the media," TAC President Frank Greenberg said in a statement. "Until the appropriate time under our rules, we will not comment on any positive tests."

Dowd criticized the IAAF for allowing the information of Barnes's test to leak to the media even before the second part of the drug test was completed.

"You can't condemn a man without a hearing, and that's what they did," Dowd said from his Washington office. "They smeared Randy Barnes without a hearing."

Barnes's drug test result has been the subject of speculation since the French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported in September that his urine sample contained traces of a steroid. Barnes was tested Aug. 7 and not notified of the allegedly positive test until Sept. 12, Dowd said. The second part of the process -- the testing of Barnes's B sample -- was conducted Sept. 25-26, but Barnes was not notified it was positive until Oct. 30.

"I think that's a long time," Dowd said. "I don't know how you explain that."

Although the IAAF did not confirm the report until Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported last month Barnes tested positive for methyltestosterone (Reynolds supposedly ingested nandrolone), but that a procedural error caused the IAAF to form a five-member panel to study the case. According to the IAAF, the panel met for a couple weeks and recommended Barnes's suspension.

Dr. Arne Ljungqvist of Sweden, an IAAF vice president, told the New York Times that there was "no doubt" doping infractions occurred.

"The doping commission meets for 3 1/2 weeks and then Ljungqvist says he has no doubt about the results?" Dowd said. "Why did they meet for 3 1/2 weeks?"