IOC To Retest Olympic Blood Samples
The International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday it will take the unprecedented step of re-testing some blood samples collected during the Summer Games in Beijing to look for a recently discovered oxygen-aiding drug.
Though the step shows the IOC's determination to weed out cheating athletes, it is unlikely to result in droves of positive tests since the new drug -- known commercially as CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator) -- had been discovered by anti-doping scientists well before the start of the Aug. 8-24 Summer Games.
French anti-doping officials announced during the Tour de France in July that cyclist Riccardo Ricco had tested positive for the substance, resulting in a torrent of publicity about CERA and its misuse. On Tuesday, the International Cycling Union confirmed that Ricco, fellow Italian rider Leonardo Piepoli and German Stefan Schumacher had tested positive for CERA during a re-testing all of the Tour's samples.
The IOC did not test for CERA during the Olympics because the new test had not been sufficiently validated, IOC spokesperson Emmanuelle Moreau said. Given the publicity over the test's discovery in July, it is unlikely it would have been widely used at the Olympic Games, where nine athletes -- but no Americans -- were charged with doping violations.
Moreau said all of the approximately 5,000 urine and blood samples taken from the Summer Games were being shipped to the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Lausanne for storage for the next eight years. The IOC and WADA will use "intelligence" to jointly decide on a plan for re-testing the blood samples, Moreau said. About 1,000 blood samples were collected, and not all will be subject to further analysis.
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