It is eight months since Beijing bade farewell to the 2008 Olympics but the files have only just opened on six more athletes who have been caught in the drug-testing net. It was revealed by the International Olympic Committee last night that seven positive tests, involving six competitors, had been made in the mass operation to re-examine drug samples for Cera (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), a new variation of the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).
The identity of the athletes and the sports involved has not been disclosed but the IOC has begun the process of notifying those involved through their national Olympic committees. The Italian Olympic Committee has confirmed that one of its competitors was among the six but gave no further details. It is not known whether the list includes the case of Athanasia Tsoumeleka, the Greek race walker whose positive test for Cera came to light in January.
The retests, which began in January, focused primarily on endurance events in cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics. Nine Olympians tested positive during the Games but when suspicions of Cera use came to light the IOC swiftly made use of its policy of re-examining samples when new drugs come to light – they are frozen and stored for eight years.