Tyler Hamilton has been confirmed as the Olympic time trial champion after the IOC admits that there
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE As some procycling readers have already pointed out in emails to the magazine, yesterday’s story ‘Tyler positive. and negative!’ now needs further explanation after it was revealed last night by the International Olympic Committee that there had been a failure in the testing procedure at their accredited lab in Athens. A statement released by the IOC gave the following information regarding Tyler Hamilton’s drug test results subsequent to his victory in the Olympic time trial event on August 18. The statement says: “On 21 September, Phonak spokesman Georges Luedinger announced that American cyclist Tyler Hamilton failed a blood anti-doping test during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. As with all anti-doping procedures, the IOC had to wait for the process to be completed before communicating on this case. The facts are as follows: – on 22 August, the IOC was informed by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Athens of a suspicious result following the analysis of Tyler Hamilton’s blood sample provided on 19 August after the time-trial race that took place on 18 August in which he won the gold medal. At the request of the IOC, a group of experts examined the file and concluded on 16 September that Tyler Hamilton’s A blood sample gave rise to an adverse analytical finding; – on the basis of this conclusion, the IOC decided on 16 September to launch a disciplinary procedure to be handled by Juridical Commission Chairman Thomas Bach, and Executive Board Members Denis Oswald and Sergey Bubka, and to immediately notify the National Olympic Committee and the athlete; – on 22 September, the laboratory analysis of the B sample was ‘considered as non-conclusive because of lack of enough intact red blood cells’; – on 23 September, the IOC informed Tyler Hamilton that, although the A sample gave rise to an adverse analytical finding on 19 August in Athens, the disciplinary procedure has had to be stopped because of the non-conclusive result of the B sample analysis. The IOC also informed him that therefore the Disciplinary Commission was being dissolved and that the IOC would not be pursuing sanctions regarding this matter. – the fact that the analysis of the B sample was not conclusive does not challenge the accuracy of the analysis of the A sample; the method used during the Olympic Games in Athens was authorised by the World Anti-Doping Agency after validation by the international scientific community in accordance with an established set of criteria.” The IOC’s medical commission chairman, Arne Ljungqvist, explained that the sample’s lack of sufficient red blood cells had been the result of the sample being stored in a deep freeze at the Athens lab. Samples undergoing analysis for possible blood doping in the new Australian-developed test must be refrigerated to prevent deterioration of the sample. In short, deep freezing of Hamilton’s B sample meant that it could not be effectively analysed. Consequently, the IOC has confirmed that Hamilton will keep his gold medal. “It was a case of human error, an unfortunate accident,” said Ljungqvist. Asked if Hamilton had been fortunate to slip through the net, Ljungqvist said: “It’s up to everyone to draw their own conclusions on that.” However, as revealed by the American’s Phonak team yesterday, both the A and B samples taken by the UCI’s testing team after Hamilton’s victory in the Vuelta time trial on September 11 have given positive results for blood doping, and he now faces a possible ban from the sport.