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Wednesday 12, Nov 2008

  IOC president says Beijing doping cases are expected to increase

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olympic-oic-steroidsAs they say, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

This seems to be the case with the anti-doping testing at the 2008 Olympics. Although the international games have already commenced and concluded in August, there are still tests being carried out by the International Olympic Committee to determine who among the participants in Beijing had used the third generation blood booster known as CERA, or continuous erythropoiesis receptor activator.

IOC president Jacques Rogge himself confirmed that the number of doping cases in this year’s Olympics is expected to climb.

“There were 39 cases before the Olympics, while there were eight cases during the Olympics and seven cases are still in the pipeline, so there could be 15 cases in total,” Rogge told Austrian news agency APA.

“But we are going ahead very carefully. I expect results in four to six weeks.”

The IOC has been implementing strict anti-doping policy to deter athletes from using anabolic steroids and other prohibited compounds. Rogge, however, emphasizes a lifetime ban for first time offenders is too harsh.

“No court in the world would approve that. Any athlete would win a civil court,” he said.
“I think doping with anabolic steroids and EPO should be followed by a four-year ban.

“But first-time offenders can’t be banned for life. Criminals are also not shot the first time they are caught.”

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics more than 5000 urine samples have been taken, including more than 1,000 blood samples.

Testing for CERA is found to be more accurate when using blood samples.

The IOC had announced in October that they are going to retest blood samples taken from the participants in Beijing. The announcement came after the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) has developed a new method to effectively test for CERA. AFLD had also implemented retroactive testing for the 2008 Tour de France blood samples.

Saturday 18, Oct 2008

  Retroactive testing for CERA nets another rider

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Bernhard KohlClimbing expert Bernhard Kohl is the latest rider to test positive for CERA, a variant of the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO). The announcement was made by France’s anti-doping agency (AFLD). The Austrian rider took the best climber’s jersey and finished third overall.

All the blood samples taken during the 2008 Tour de France held this July will be tested for CERA. It has only been a few weeks ago that a new testing method was developed to detect  this third-generation blood booster thus the retroactive testing.

An AFLD statement issued Monday said that Kohl had been notified of the result.

“The AFLD confirms that it’s laboratory at Châtenay-Malabry has found two abnormal samples showing the presence of EPO CERA in blood samples taken on July 3 and 15, before and during the Tour de France, on Austrian cyclist Bernard Kohl,” the statement said. “The official notification to the athlete was done through the Austrian Anti-doping Agency (NADA Austria).

This means disciplinary proceedings can be taken against the athlete by the French and Austrian national disciplinary authorities, as the 2008 Tour de France was not included in the UCI (world cycling’s governing body) calendar.”

Saturday 26, Jul 2008

  New technology to catch users of steroids, EPO, and other banned drugs

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Congress, steroids, baseballAthletes who use banned compounds like EPO and anabolic steroids should beware. Let what happened to cyclist Ricardo Ricco be a lesson.

The Italian cyclist, who has been a two-stage winner of Tour de France, was expelled from the race because of the newfangled anti-doping technology.    Ricco was ninth overall before he was evicted Thursday before the 12th stage. His team, Saunier Duval, subsequently quit the race, and Ricco and teammate Leonardo Piepoli were later fired. Piepoli has confessed of using the same third generation EPO, which Ricco has tested positive for.

Apparently, it’s not only on the war on terror that technologies have been stepped up but also on war against drugs –stealth modes are now being used to catch the enemies, so to speak. With this cunning detection method, we wonder who would be the next athletes to be smoked out of their juiced up haven.

The Sydney Morning Herald published this report July 24:

A MOLECULE was the undoing of Tour de France drug cheat Ricardo Ricco, World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey revealed yesterday.

Fahey said the war on drugs was stepping up, with WADA uniting with drug manufacturers to trap cheats. Italian rider Ricco, who had won stages six and nine of the Tour, tested positive for the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO). It’s believed Ricco thought there was no test for the red-cell booster he was using called Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator (CERA).

A molecule placed in the drug during its manufacture caught Ricco out last week, and Fahey said that more cheats would be sprung like this.
“I can’t tell you the details of how he was detected,” Fahey told ABC Radio. “[But] I can indicate the particular substance is called CERA … which is a perfectly legitimate substance to deal with anaemia.

“In the development of that particular substance close cooperation occurred between WADA and the pharmaceutical company Roche Pharmaceuticals so that there was a molecule placed in the substance well in advance that was always going to be able to be detected once a test was undertaken.”

The WADA chief is hopeful that more drug companies will advocate this new technology, ridding competitive sports of athletes who rely on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to win. The Beijing Games will also be the cleanest Olympics yet, he added, because of improved testing technology.

“The more co-operation the scientists can have with the drug companies in the detection of performance-enhancing drugs the greater the likelihood is they will be detected when tests are undertaken,” Fahey said.

“[But] I can give this guarantee – there’s a far greater likelihood that anybody cheating or attempting to cheat in the Beijing Games will be caught than in any other time of our history.”

However, there seems to be counterflow to this kind of technology. Ever heard of gene doping? It is defined by WADA – yup, the same organization Mr. Fahey leads – as “the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance.” Suffice it to say that gene doping offers a new frontier for athletes who want to foil detection.