January 28

Tough drug-testing net in place for Sochi Olympics

International Olympic and anti-doping officials are implementing the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history.

By Stephen Wilson
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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This file photo of is a worker leaves after checking ice conditions at the Iceberg Skating Palace, where the figure skating and short track speed skiing will take place, at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The Associated Press

The IOC freezes and stores Olympic samples for eight years at the lab in Lausanne, Switzerland. The samples can be retested when new methods become available. The storage period will be extended to 10 years starting in 2016.

The IOC recently retested 350 samples from the Turin Olympics, but said it will wait until after the Sochi Games to announce the results.

“The rules from Torino say the IOC cannot discuss any details about that until the full doping control process is completed, and it’s not completed yet,” Budgett said. “What we can say is that it doesn’t affect any athletes who are competing in Sochi.”

While testing has improved, there remains a loophole in the system: no reliable test exists for detecting the transfusion of an athlete’s own blood. Several sports federations, however, have adopted the “biological passport” program, which monitors an athlete’s blood parameters over time to detect changes that could indicate doping.

The Olympics come at a sensitive time for Russia, which has a dubious record on doping. Scores of Russian athletes in various sports have tested positive in recent months. A scandal in Sochi would be a huge embarrassment for the host country.

Russia’s doping lab has also come under scrutiny, with WADA threatening to suspend the Moscow-based facility late last year unless it improved its procedures. The lab has since passed inspection and has set up a satellite facility in Sochi for the Olympics.

The lab will be staffed by 90 personnel, including 18 international experts appointed by the IOC to help oversee the operations.

The main novelty is the “long-term metabolite” test for steroids, expanding the detection window by weeks or months. The WADA lab in Cologne, Germany, has found hundreds of positive cases with the new test in the past year.

Also in use will be tests for human growth hormone, which had been on hold following challenges to the system for measuring blood limits.

“You can’t say there are no cheats,” WADA director general David Howman said. “People are having a go where they can, but the risk is heightening and the approach is better.

“We keep saying: ‘You’d be stupid if you tried to cheat at the Olympics because you’re going to be found out.”’

Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap

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AP Sports Writer John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.

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