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01 September 2008

Test surprised doping athletes

Over a dozen Greek athletes who failed doping tests prior to and during last month's Olympics thought a rare anabolic steroid would help them elude tests, says an expert.

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Over a dozen Greek athletes who failed doping tests prior to and during last month's Beijing Olympics thought a rare anabolic steroid would help them elude tests, a leading anti-doping expert said Monday.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had been on the lookout for cheats from Greece ever since the drug, methyltrienolone, turned up in the results of 11 Greek weightlifters in April, Don Catlin, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency's committee for science and medicine, told Ta Nea daily.

"The Greek case...involved the use of a particularly rare and dangerous anabolic whose use had not been officially recorded before," Catlin said.

"Whoever marketed it in Greece undoubtedly argued that it is not harmful and could not be traced, as only small quantities are needed for it to act."

15 athletes tested positive
In all, fifteen Greek athletes in three disciplines - weightlifting, swimming and athletics - have tested positive for methyltrienolone, severely embarrassing Greek authorities which on Monday tabled tougher anti-doping legislation in parliament.

"The (Greek) state wants clean athletes," Michalis Liapis, the Greek culture minister responsible for sport, told reporters.

The new regulations cut rewards for successful athletes to discourage drug cheating and toughen sanctions against providers of banned substances, corrupt anti-doping officials and sports officials.

The doping outbreak has already sparked a preliminary judicial probe.

Among those caught is Fani Halkia, the women's 400m hurdles gold medallist at the Athens Olympics, whose coach George Panagiotopoulos has now been sued by the IOC for causing damage to its reputation.

Catlin is a senior US chemist whose research led to the uncovering of the BALCO steroid scandal and the first test for THG, the once-undetectable drug that dope cheats had used with great success. – (Sapa-AFP)

Read more:
Anti-doping tests faulty?
Tough new doping regulations

September 2008

 
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