Olympic anti-dop­ing lab sus­pi­cious it may be see­ing blood dop­ing

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS -

VAN­COU­VER (CP) — The Van­cou­ver Games may yet have some pos­i­tive drug tests.

The chair­man of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee’s med­i­cal com­mis­sion said Thurs­day that the anti-dop­ing lab wants to do ad­di­tional anal­y­sis on blood sam­ples taken from some ath­letes be­cause there may be signs that point to blood dop­ing.

Dr. Arne Ljungqvist, a vet­eran of the an­tidop­ing cam­paign, couldn’t say how many tests are un­der­go­ing fur­ther study.

“I don’t have any fig­ures. And all I can say is that it’s a low-grade sus­pi­cion at a very low rate,” Ljungqvist told jour­nal­ists at an IOC brief­ing. “ There is not a par­tic­u­lar sus­pi­cion di­rected to­ward a par­tic­u­lar ath­lete,” he added.

“But we, just to make sure, wish to fol­low up some blood data. And that means that we are looking at per­haps cases that are maybe us­ing late gen­er­a­tions of EPO.”

EPO, short for ery­thro­poeitin, is a mem­ber of a class of drugs de­vel­oped to com­bat ane­mia — low red blood cell counts — in pa­tients with kid­ney fail­ure and some forms of can­cer. Dop­ing ath­letes in en­durance sports use the drugs to boost pro­duc­tion of oxy­gen-car­ry­ing red blood cells.

Ljungqvist didn’t say whether the drug lab ex­pects to be able to re­solve the ques­tion by the end of the Games.

But un­der IOC rules, sam­ples are kept for eight years. They can be re­an­a­lyzed at any point dur­ing that pe­riod and if fu­ture test- ing shows an ath­lete cheated, sanc­tions will be levied.

With 1,821 out of a pro­jected 2,000 dop­ing tests com­pleted, the only pos­i­tive that has come to light re­mains a Rus­sian women’s hockey player who used a banned stim­u­lant in a cold de­con­ges­tant be­fore the Games be­gan. She was rep­ri­manded, but not barred from com­pe­ti­tion.

“It’s too early to make a full sum­ming up of the Van­cou­ver Games. That will take an­other one week or two, once we have the full re­ports from the last few days and com­pile all the data,” said Ljungqvist, a physi­cian and re­searcher from Swe­den. “But un­til to­day, it seems promis­ing.” Nearly 400 of the sam­ples taken so far have been blood, the rest urine.

All medal win­ners plus two ath­letes cho­sen at ran­dom from each event have to sub­mit sam­ples for dop­ing con­trol. That por­tion of the anti-dop­ing ef­fort is called post­com­pe­ti­tion test­ing.

A sec­ond com­po­nent called pre-com­pe­ti­tion test­ing in­volves no-no­tice sam­pling of ath­letes dur­ing what’s known as the Olympic pe­riod — the time dur­ing which the ath­letes vil­lage is up and run­ning.

So far, 888 pre-com­pe­ti­tion tests have been con­ducted. Ljungqvist said pre­c­om­pe­ti­tion test­ing is com­pleted, so far as planned tests are con­cerned, but the IOC could still re­quest ad­di­tional tests, even from ath­letes whose events are over.

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