POSTED: October 8th 2008

IOC orders Beijing retesting

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: The International Olympic Committee will further investigate the anti-doping samples from the Beijing Olympics in search of an emerging new blood-booster detected  in several Tour de France riders.

"Our message is very clear. The IOC will not miss any opportunity to further analyse samples retroactively. We hope that this will work as a strong deterrent and make athletes think twice before cheating," said IOC president Jacques Rogge. He has long taken a strong stance against performance-enhancing drugs well known with a zero tolerance level.

Following the series of doping cases in the Tour de France revealed yesterday, the IOC will be canvassing the samples in search for traces of CERA, the latest in the list of performance enhancing substances.

The French Anti-Doping Agency detected CERA in riders at the Tour de France with a new blood test that superseded the urine testing during the event. Officials on Tuesday confirmed positive tests on German rider Stefan Schumacher, and two Italians Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli. Overall these three riders won five of the Tour’s 21 stages.

CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator) is an advanced version of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO designed to increase the number of oxygen-rich blood cells.

It could be beneficial for sprinters, long-distance runners, cyclists, and nordic skiers who practise high-intensity sports because it fuels more oxygen into the system.

IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau has further confirmed that the samples from all 35 sports would be brought to the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, headquarters of the IOC.

Wada president, the Hon. John Fahey said,“We suggest that athletes who may be tempted to cheat keep this reality in mind and we believe that retrospective testing will serve as a strong deterrent.”

Olympic samples are usually stored there up to eight years after the Games, giving the IOC the ability to analyse samples at any given time as new validated testing techniques might become available to detect prohibited substances and methods.

Details as to the number of samples that will be re-tested and the timelines are currently up for discussion with WADA.

The Beijing Olympics had the largest ever testing program for an Olympiad with 4,770 tests including 3,801 urine and 969 blood tests. Of these numbers there were 817 EPO tests done on the urine tests and 471 human Growth Hormone (hGH) on the blood tests. Across the board generally all top five finishers, plus a further two, were tested.

Keywords · IOC · WADA · CERA · EPO · Tour de France · Jacques Rogge · John Fahey · Beijing 2008 · French Anti Doping Agency

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