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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.

By Amy Shipley  |  October 8, 2008; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  IOC  
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I believe there could still be some positive tests. The existence of a test for micera wasn't known until Ricco tested positive on July 17th. If it stays in an athlete's system for 30 days as reported, even people who stopped immediately might still have tested positive.

Posted by: John | October 8, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

This is disturbing. The IOC is a completely untrustworthy org. and for them to retain blood and urine samples for 8 years is a major security risk. Theses samples (DNA) should be destroyed immediately. If I were one of the Olympic athletes I would file suite to have the samples destroyed. How the IOC feels they can go back 5-6 years or what ever and retest for things they we're unable to test for originally is ridiculous. This mentality has to go.
Maybe they should recheck the Chinese gymnastics teams birth cert.

Posted by: Askgees | October 8, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

point is don't cheat and real results will be real achievements...maybe the old adage "cheaters never prosper" will mean something again.

Posted by: karen | October 8, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"Theses samples (DNA) should be destroyed immediately."

Intelligent commentary there, sir. And what do you suggest that a malicious individual would do with someone's DNA if they found it? What possible conceivable security risk could someone obtaining DNA samples pose to -anyone-? If the athletes had to provide some sort of identification number - passport, license, social security, that would be more dangerous than a blood sample.

DNA doesn't store your memorized passwords, it doesn't tell people where you live or anything useful they could use against you with the exception of maybe laughing at you over your hereditary increase in likelihood to develop a certain illness.

So go ahead, file "suite." Chances are they've already signed off on the retention of the blood samples and that's that.

Posted by: Teeth weasel | October 8, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Who Cares?

Posted by: AF | October 8, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Great! Hopefully Michael Phelps will be exposed once and for all.

Posted by: Hugh K | October 8, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hugh - go ahead and offer some reliable proof Michael Phelps used performance enhancing drugs. The guy submits samples consistently to all the agencies and has volunteered to be a part of any program. Don't be ignorant and lump swimming together with sports like cycling and baseball, who have had suspect anti-doping policies for years while swimming has been at the forefront of testing and punishment.

Posted by: Hugh is an idiot | October 8, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I think they shoud pull the teeth of the chinese gymnasts and carbon test them.

I think they should test the IOC officials and judges because most of them would have to be on drugs to make the decisions that they do. Noe of them could pass this oxygen test either because theyare full of hot air.

Posted by: Dbrine1261 | October 8, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

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