IN A dramatic coup, the International Olympic Committee has uncovered six new cases of doping after re-testing samples given at the Beijing Olympic Games. It is understood the six competitors involved three track-and-field athletes, one of which was a gold medallist, two cyclists, one of which was Italian silver medal-winning road racer Davide Rebellin, and one weightlifter.
Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred said the AOC had not been notified that any Australians were involved. Usually the IOC contacts the relevant national committee to notify the particular athlete involved and implement the sanctioning process. "We have not been notified that any Australians are involved in the latest re-testing, so we can only assume that this does not involve any Australian athletes," he said. The US and New Zealand Olympic Committees made similar statements.
It is not known if any Australians would be elevated in the standings as a result of the re-testing. Any medallists found to be doping are stripped of their results and forced to hand back their medals for reallocation. The French IOC laboratory conducted the re-testing of 948 samples, which uncovered seven cases of doping involving six competitors. The new drug uncovered was the latest blood doping agent, CERA (continuous erythropoietin receptor activator), which has a longer-lasting effect than erythropoietin (EPO) but acts in a similar way by boosting the red blood cells in the body to enable more efficient uptake of oxygen.
The testers surprised the peloton in last year’s Tour de France by testing for CERA, after the drug manufacturers tipped off the World Anti Doping Agency about CERA’s legitimate manufacture and chemical composition for kidney patients. The drug testers also re-tested 101 Beijing Olympic samples for insulin, but none were positive. IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said this latest doping development was a significant victory for clean athletes.
"The further analysis of the Beijing samples that we conducted should send a clear message that cheats can never assume that they have avoided detection," he said. "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 further analysis comes after 4770 doping tests were conducted in Beijing, including 3801 urine and 969 blood tests. Urine tests included 817 EPO tests, and the blood tests included 471 human growth hormone tests.