IOC approves blood tests for Sydney

The International Olympic Committee has given its final approval Monday to the use of blood tests for the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO at the Sydney Games.

The International Olympic Committee has given its final approval Monday to the use of blood tests for the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO at the Sydney Games.

Some 400 EPO tests likely will be carried out between Sept. 2, the day the athletes' village opens, and the closing of the games Oct. 1, said Prince Alexandre de Merode, the head of the IOC medical commission. The total will be between 300 and 700, depending on laboratory capacity.

"I think it will be a very good impact on the many athletes who do not cheat," said Kevan Gosper, an IOC vice president from Australia. "For those who do cheat, I hope it scares the heck out of them."

De Merode said a total of 3,800 drug tests can be expected before and during the Sydney Olympics. Urine samples taken as part of the EPO testing procedure will also be used to test for substances such as anabolic steroids.

The IOC's ruling executive board backed a recommendation from IOC legal experts that the tests should be allowed to go ahead. The IOC juridical commission, meeting Sunday, found no legal impediments to conducting them.

The combined urine and blood test for EPO, or erythropoietin, was backed earlier this month by the IOC medical commission and outside scientific experts. But final authorization was required by the juridical commission and executive board.

"It's been 14 or 15 years that it's taken to come up with this valid test," de Merode said.

He stressed that athletes who refuse to take the tests will not be allowed to compete.

"If they don't want to accept the rules, there is no obligation on them to take part," he said.

EPO, the drug at the heart of the Tour de France doping scandal in 1998, is believed to be widely used by athletes in endurance sports and events such as long-distance running, swimming and cycling.

De Merode said that no particular sport would be singled out for testing at Sydney and athletes will be chosen at random.

"I'm against the idea of trying to introduce this concept of high-risk sports," he said. "I think it's unjustifiable."

The IOC is hoping that the tests in Sydney will encourage sporting federations to use the procedure in future.

"Of course we're recommending it," de Merode said. "It's probable that the Olympic Games will be a particularly favorable place for this type of experiment."

Injected in synthetic form, EPO enhances stamina by increasing the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. Experts say it can improve performance by up to 15 percent.

Until now, there has been no test for detecting EPO use. French researchers developed a urine test which can provide direct proof of EPO use, while Australian scientists devised a blood test which offers indirect evidence.

Australian sports minister Jackie Kelly welcomed the IOC decision as "a breakthrough in the fight against drugs in sport."

"It puts blood testing squarely on the anti-doping landscape," Kelly said in a statement. "That is a tremendous legacy in itself."

In Sydney, an athlete will be considered guilty of EPO use only if both urine and blood tests are positive.

Olympic officials said they were confident of their reliability, and de Merode insisted a high number of positive tests at Sydney would "certainly not" be an embarrassment.

He conceded that "today, there are still some minor faults" with the French urine test but said the Australian-developed blood test compensates for any shortcomings.

The decision on EPO gave Olympic officials hope they can crack down on other drugs that still defy detection.

"I am sure that, (for) the human growth hormone, in the next months we will be able to find a solution," said IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

Recruitment Genius: Associate Sales Consultant

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Associate Sales Consultant i...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot