athletics Doubt on drug-tests

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The Independent Online
Doubts were raised yesterday about the out-of-competition drug testing on which the Sports Council spends up to £200,000 per year, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Chris Carter, British Athletic Federation co-ordinator of the out-of-competition programme, expressed concern at gaps between notifying competitors of a test and taking a sample.

According to Sports Council figures, of 242 out-of-competition tests last year, only 39 were at no notice. "There are ways athletes could show themselves negative if given time," Carter said. "There is an opportunity to cheat."

Michele Verroken, head of the Sports Council's doping unit, said it could take as little as a quarter of an hour to clear the system by cathetering clean urine into the bladder. "Blow masking agents," Verroken said. "A good doper will know all about catheterisation. You can buy a kit at the chemist."

Once the out-of-competition tester makes contact with a competitor, they remain with them until they witness a sample being produced. The danger is when competitors can only be notified indirectly, or if they are unable to comply at once because of othercommitments.