Organizers of the Pan Am Games and other large multi-sport events have been urged by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to follow the example of the International Olympic Committee of storing samples for possible testing in the future.

Drug-test samples from Olympic Games are stored for a period up to 10 years that means an athlete who cheated might be caught a decade later by new testing technology. Officials running the Pan Am anti-doping program remarked they will conduct 1,900 urine and blood tests and this number is about one-third of the 6,000 athletes participating in Toronto.

Three athletes failed doping tests just hours after the opening ceremony at the 2011 Pan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico.

David Howman, the director general of WADA, said we encourage them to do it because it’s important for clean athletes to know that some substance, which couldn’t have been analyzed now, could be analyzed later and detected. The director general of WADA said he recognizes there are budgetary restrictions but added storing more samples would be a further deterrent to athletes that cheat and will remind them they are being targeted. Howman also said we have discussed that with the IOC as they store all of theirs and also remarked we are trying to encourage others to look at a process where they can store any that they think will be beneficial in the future.

Two main changes to the revised WADA Code may be noticed at the Pan Am Games currently underway in Toronto, according to Howman. The new rules make it mandatory for a certain percentage of athletes in a sport to be tested for specific banned substances, like some cyclists would be tested for the blood-booster EPO. Howman also added that specific athletes will be targeted for testing and said that is a little bit more smart-testing than in the past, when it was a more random approach.

Matthew Koop, who leads the anti-doping program with Dr. Julia Alleyne at the Pan Am Games, remarked the games organizers (the Pan American Sports Organization) were responsible for deciding about storing samples and said he was in favor. Koop commented these are regional games, and it is a different competition from the Olympics, but many leading anti-doping organizations at the national level are starting to look at this.

Craig Reedie, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said there will be one day when athletes coming to multi-sport events like the Pan American Games will know they are competing on a level playing free of drug cheats. Reedie said he is prepared to happily concede that in a world of many billion people there is never going to be total eradication and added he wants to believe it is possible to have clean sport. The WADA Chief said but he thinks there is a very reasonable chance that at an organized sport level we can get to a situation where those people who cheat are an ever diminishing part of the sport family.

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