IOC to Retest Blood Samples From Beijing

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The International Olympic Committee announced yesterday that it will take the unprecedented step of retesting some blood samples collected during the Summer Games in Beijing to look for a recently discovered oxygen-aiding drug.

Though the step shows the IOC's determination to weed out cheating athletes, it is unlikely to result in droves of positive tests since the new drug -- known as CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator) -- had been discovered by anti-doping scientists well before the start of the Aug. 8-24 Summer Games.

French anti-doping officials announced during the Tour de France in July that cyclist Riccardo Ricco had tested positive for the substance, resulting in a torrent of publicity about CERA and its misuse. On Tuesday, the International Cycling Union confirmed that Ricco, fellow Italian rider Leonardo Piepoli and German Stefan Schumacher had tested positive for CERA during a retesting all of the Tour's samples.

The IOC did not test for CERA during the Olympics because the new test had not been sufficiently validated, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said. Given the publicity over the test's discovery in July, it is unlikely it would have been widely used at the Olympic Games, where nine athletes -- but no Americans -- were charged with doping violations.

Moreau said all of the approximately 5,000 urine and blood samples taken from the Summer Games were being shipped to the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, for storage for the next eight years. The IOC and WADA will use "intelligence" to jointly decide on a plan for retesting the blood samples, Moreau said. About 1,000 blood samples were collected, and not all will be subject to further analysis.

· CYCLING: Cycling's governing body is relaxing its rules to allow Lance Armstrong to make his comeback at a road race in Australia in January.

The International Cycling Union said the seven-time Tour de France champion can compete in the Jan. 20-25 Tour Down Under, his first race since coming out of retirement after three years.

· BASEBALL: Rich Harden's $7 million option for next year was exercised by the Chicago Cubs, one day after a test showed the hard-throwing right-hander had no structural damage in his pitching shoulder.

· COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin seven games into his tenure. . . .

East Carolina officials said that wide receiver Jamar Bryant was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team policy.

· COLLEGE BASKETBALL: North Carolina officials said that senior Marcus Ginyard (O'Connell) will miss eight weeks after having surgery on his broken foot.

· HORSE RACING: The Breeders' Cup is going back to the home of the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs in Louisville will host the world championships on Nov. 5-6, 2010, the event's first trip to the track since the Cup expanded to a two-day format in 2007.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports

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