Blood samples taken at the Beijing Olympics are to be reanalysed for the banned blood booster EPO using a new detection system developed for the Tour de France, the IOC announced Wednesday.
The retroacative controls are designed to seek out the presence of the new generation of EPO known as CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator).
The IOC’s announcement comes 48 hours after reanalysed samples from the Tour de France unearthed two drug cheats – Germany’s Stefan Schumacher, a double stage winner in this year’s race, and Italian Leonardo Piepoli.
IOC spokesman Emmanuelle Moreau told AFP: “This is part of our normal procedure. We keep the samples for eight years and whenever a new test arrives we carry out new tests.”
The CERA form of EPO was detected for the first time at this year’s Tour in the sample of Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco with a full test developed to combat it by the French laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry.
The laboratory is currently retroactively checking 15 samples from this year’s Tour with two of those producing Schumacher and Piepoli’s positive tests.
It was that double success that “prompted the IOC to retest samples from Beijing,” explained Moreau.
The IOC is now in the process of moving all the Beijing samples to its headquarters in Lausanne before finalising the conditions and timing of the new tests.
“A joint IOC/WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) commission is going to decide the procedure,” Moreau said.
Over 1,000 blood samples were taken at the Games as part of over 5,000 anti-doping controls.
The 2008 Games were held up by the IOC as proof that they were winning the war on drugs with only a handful of positive cases compared to 26 at Athens in 2004.
© AFP 2008