POSTED: April 28th 2009

Six face doping suspensions after Beijing Games re-testing

Already banned: Belarus hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan / lake images
Already banned: Belarus hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/LAUSANNE: Six Olympic competitors have been found positive for doping in the retesting of samples from last summer’s Beijing Games.

The International Olympic Committee said in a statement that seven positive tests involving the six had been registered for Cera, an advanced version of endurance-enhancing hormone EPO.

The names and sports of the athletes concerned were withheld officially although those identified subsequently included Rashid Ramzi, who won Bahrain's first ever Olympic gold medal in winning the 1500m, Italian silver medal cyclist Davide Rebellin, German cyclist Stefan Schumacher, Athanasia Tsoumeleka, Greece's 2004 Olympic 20km walking champion, and Croatia’s 800m runner Vanja Perisic.

The retesting was carried out at World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratories in Paris, Lausanne and Cologne. Paris and Lausanne testers ran 400 checks for Cera while Cologne checked insulin abuse. A total of 948 samples were studied.

The new EPO test had been developed by the Paris laboratory and had been used initially last year at the Tour de France.

Events on which the retesting focused were endurance competitions such as cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics. Testing began in January. The IOC now stores Games dope test samples for eight years in support of its zero-tolerance policy so that samples can be analysed retroactively with awareness of both new substances and testing procedures.

'Clear message'

Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC medical commission, said: “This further analysis should send a clear message that cheats can never assume that they have avoided detection. The vast majority of athletes do not seek an unfair advantage. We intend to do all we can to ensure that they have a fair environment for competition."

The IOC said that, pending action under its own disciplinary code, national and international bodies were free to impose interim provisional suspensions. Athletes ultimately found guilty face being disqualified from the Olympics and stripped of any medals.

A total of 4,770 tests were conducted in Beijing, the largest-ever testing programme at an Olympics. The tests included 3,801 urine and 969 blood tests. Urine tests included 817 EPO tests, and blood tests covered 471 human growth hormone tests. As a general rule, all top five finishers, plus a further two, were tested.

The IOC had already disqualified nine athletes for doping after Beijing - Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska, Ukrainian weightlifter Igor Razoronov, Greek hurdler Fani Halkia, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su, Spanish cyclist Isabel Moreno, Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do, Belarusian hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tsikhan plus Polish canoeist Adam Seroczynski.

Keywords · IOC · dope tests · WADA · 2008 Olympic Games · Beijing · cera · EPO

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