Drugs in Sport: Atlanta testing attacked

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The Independent Online
Further criticism over the efficiency of the drug-testing operation at last year's Olympic Games in Atlanta is causing concern in the Olympic movement.

The organisation of the test laboratory in Atlanta has been criticised and the results of a new machine, hailed as a revolutionary way of catching drug offenders before the Games, were not used. The high- resolution mass spectrometer was touted as a major step forward because it is able to trace banned substances in the body back over a longer period.

Last November, however, the International Olympic Committee admitted it had not been satisfied with the reliability of test procedures on the machine and a handful of positive urine samples had been rejected.

Olympic sources revealed this week that the IOC ultimately decided against using any of the results from the machine. In private, many experienced officials have been critical of the way drug-testing was run in Atlanta. "The whole thing won't be run like that again," one Olympic source said. "None of the results of the spectrometer were used."

Many experts were surprised in Atlanta that only two athletes were caught taking steroids. The testing is regarded as being unfair because there are athletes who have been banned after their tests were analysed by the spectrometer at other events.

The Australian sprinter Dean Capobianco, for example, is contesting a four-year ban for steroids on the grounds that two specimens he gave during a short period last year produced different results - one positive, one negative. The positive result came from a test analysed on the spectrometer, while the negative test was not analysed by the machine.