The International Olympic Committee will retest doping samples from the Beijing Games to check for traces of a new blood-boosting drug.
The unprecedented move, announced Wednesday, is designed to search for a banned substance that was only recently detected during retesting
of samples from the Tour de France.
The Beijing samples - across all sports - are being sent to the
World Anti-Doping Agency accredited laboratory in Lausanne, IOC
spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.
The IOC conducted more than 5 000 drug tests during the Beijing
Games. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the samples will be
The samples will be reopened and tested for CERA, a new generation
of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO. The substance boosts an
athlete's performance by increasing the number of oxygen-rich blood
cells. Details of the testing procedure are under discussion with WADA,
"This clearly demonstrates the determination that there is zero
tolerance (on doping), and that we will use all the means available to
catch the cheaters," IOC vice president Thomas Bach of Germany said.
'We can confound the cheaters'
The IOC stores samples from the Olympics for eight years, leaving
open the possibility to retest them when new detection methods are
devised. Bach suggested the new tests should target endurance sports in which
CERA would be most beneficial to athletes.
The decision comes after a new lab test used by the French
Anti-Doping Agency detected CERA during retesting of samples from Tour
de France riders. The original urine tests had raised suspicions but
"It's very good. It allows us to confound the cheaters," Tour de
France chief Christian Prudhomme said Tuesday. "What's being done at
the Tour de France has never existed in the world of sport."
Officials confirmed that German rider Stefan Schumacher, and
Italians Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli had tested positive for
CERA at the Tour. The three riders combined to win five of the Tour's
Bach said that the future of men's road cycling in the
Olympics could be threatened unless the sport cleans up its act under
the aegis of the international cycling union, or UCI.
More cases pending
If the entire sport doesn't pull together to improve the situation,
"then you have to consider giving men's road cycling a pause" from
Olympic participation, Bach said. In a statement Moreau said, `The IOC will continue to
support the UCI - and any other international federation - as long as
it is deploying meaningful and credible means and efforts to fight
The IOC disqualified six athletes for doping during the August 8 - 24
Beijing Games - Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska, Ukrainian
weightlifter Igor Razoronov, Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, North Korean
shooter Kim Jong Su, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno and Vietnamese
gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do.
Three other cases are still pending. The IOC has given Belarusian
hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan until Oct. 17 to
provide more information explaining why they tested positive for
testosterone. A decision is due shortly in the case of Polish canoeist
Adam Seroczynski, who tested positive for clenbuterol.
In addition, dozens of athletes around the world were caught for
doping before the Olympics in pre-games tests. – (Sapa, October 2008)
Test surprised doping athletes