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Top scientist quits Olympics anti-doping body in 'muzzling' claim


A scientist with a leading role in anti-doping at the London Olympics has resigned amid claims he is being "muzzled" by authorities. Dr Michael Ashenden is a leading expert on blood doping in cycling and has been critical of the effectiveness of "biological passports" in monitoring potential doping.

The cycling governing body the Union Cycliste International (UCI), and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have recently handed management of biological passports to a new Athlete Passport Management Unit (APMU) at the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses in Lausanne.

Blood doping involves artificially increasing the number of red blood cells in the body, which effectively artificially increases fitness levels. The biological passport was introduced in cycling in 2007 .It involves using blood and urinesamples to create a unique medical profile that can be compared to the results of subsequent doping tests. But Dr Ashenden claims it is possible to cheat the system by taking micro doses of the blood-boosting drug EPO.

The IAAF had wanted Dr Ashenden to be part of an expert panel, but new contracts issued by the Swiss Laboratory contained confidentiality clauses which, Dr Ashenden claimed, created a culture of "omerta", a term describing the pact of silence in the Mafia, and the new APMU was trying to silence him.

Dr Ashenden said his new contract required him to get permission before offering personal opinions on any matter related to his role interpreting blood profiles. He said the APMU were "trying to manage the message". He told the BBC: "I believe it's important media have the opportunity to ask hard questions. Unless they're well informed about how the passport operates, they won't know which questions to ask.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpini said yesterday: "The system is now being run by the APMU, because of that, the UCI has nothing to do with Michael Ashenden's resignation." The IAAF told the BBC it had "made enormous progress on the Athletes Biological Passport".

£6,000 bonus for Tube drivers

Tube drivers could earn more than £6,000 in bonuses if they work extra shifts during the Olympics, it was claimed last night.

An offer made to drivers' union Aslef , which covers a nine-week period from the start of the Olympics, is thought to include a straight £1,000 bonus, plus other payments. If a driver were to take all the overtime available, it would equate to an extra £6,200.

Howard Collins, the Underground's chief operating officer, said: "We do not recognise Aslef's figures. Drivers do not usually work overtime. We expect some Tube drivers to earn £1,400 to £2,000 over the period."

BBC to broadcast 24 live streams

The BBC is to broadcast 24 live streams of Olympic action in high definition this summer. BSkyB and Freesat will air all 24 channels live, both in HD and in normal definition

The streams will be an addition to the coverage on BBC1 and BBC3, which will select the more high-profile moments of each day's events.