10 February 2010

Olympics: dopers will be caught

International Olympic Committee officials warned would-be dope cheats that they will be uncovered, even if it takes nearly eight years of advances in dope testing to reveal them.

International Olympic Committee officials warned would-be dope cheats that they will be uncovered, even if it takes nearly eight years of advances in dope testing to reveal their shame.

"I'm confident cheats who appear here will be identified, sooner or later," said IOC medical chairman Arne Ljungqvist.

"Athletes considering using such substances should know that we will be testing samples years later. If you get free today, you may be identified tomorrow."

2,000 samples for winter games
A total of 420 doping tests - none positive - had been processed
through Monday at the new state-of-the-art Vancouver Winter
Olympics laboratory where more than 2,000 samples - 1,600 urine and
400 to 500 blood - will be analysed.

Between 80 and 100 tests will be conducted each day with plans for results to be known within 24 hours. A staff of 35 scientists are working around the clock in the laboratory.

"We have a laboratory with all the sensitivity and specificity that would ensure the IOC the testing will be of the highest level possible," Vancouver lab chief Christiane Ayotte said. "We've done the best that could be done."

Stored for eight years

Samples can be stored and re-examined for eight years, allowing for test advancements that can catch cheats even years later.

"We're in no hurry, but the sooner the better when you identify a cheat," Ljungqvist said. "Unfortunately there are people who like to take a chance."

Vancouver test data will be given to global sport federations to help form athlete biological "passport" data for future consideration.

Ljungqvist does not forsee a doping violation during the Games due to incompatible data but does not rule out Games data revealing a violation in time. "That's just part of the reality today, but we have eight years at our disposal," he said.

Russians banned last year

Eight Russians were banned for doping after last year's world cross country skiing championships, prompting Ljungqvist to stress the importance of independence and essential resources for Russia's anti-doping agency.

"I'm pleased the Russians have a clear knowledge they have a problem and they can take action," Ljungqvist said. "They have a good chance to show serious work against doping in Russia."

No evidence has been uncovered, Ljungqvist said, that would spark a case such as the one in 2006 at Turin when Italian authorities found doping evidence in a raid on Austrian cross country and biathlon skiers. - (Jim Slater/Sapa, February 2010)




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