Olympic Committee provides a chance in anti-doping fight | News | DW | 26.11.2012
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Olympic Committee provides a chance in anti-doping fight

Only after public criticism has the Olympics' governing body begun retesting doping samples collected at the 2004 Athens Games. However, that process is very incomplete, as evidenced by research from DW's Florian Bauer.

Following reporting from DW and German broadcaster ARD, it is now known that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only half-heartedly retested samples collected from athletes at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Of the nearly 3,700 doping samples from the 2004 Summer Olympics, only 110 were retested. This is despite the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had advised the IOC to retest three times that figure. And despite the low number of retests, five athletes have already been found positive.

WADA President John Fahey has criticized the IOC for the first time publicly, asking: "Why bother taking samples for eight years if you're not going to reanalyze them? Throw them out in the first place. Save your money, save the space."

WADA has an eight-year statute of limitations on doping cases.

Dick Pound, the former president of the WADA, has long been an influential member of the IOC. He did not refute the criticism.

"We missed an opportunity," he said. "[It's] clear from the results that we got on the 100 samples that we eventually did that there was fruit out there to be picked and I should've hoped that getting five positives or six positives out of 100 samples retested - that that would encourage going further if we're trying to fight against doping in sport and have a zero tolerance, as the IOC likes to say that it has. "

Five medal winners retest positive

According to information from ARD, all five athletes who tested positive are medal winners from Eastern Europe: the men's gold medal winner in the shot put, Yuri Belonog (Ukraine), the women's bronze medal winner in the shot put, Svetlana Krivelyova (Russia), the men's bronze medal winner in weightlifting, Oleg Perepetchenov (Russia), the women's bronze medal winner in discus, Iryna Yatchenko (Belarus), and the silver medal winner in the hammer throw already announced before the London Olympics this summer, Ivan Tsikhan (Belarus).

All claim never to have taken banned substances. The head of the IOC Medical Commission, Arne Ljungqvist, who was responsible for the retests, explained why all of this information was not public.

"We had the London Games in between, and all that happened in relation to that, and the whole the IOC organization was busy both before, during and the games," he said. "It's not a priority matter. We have the information there, we have the material there and it will be dealt with in due course."

100-meter champion Justin Gatlin not verified

The crown jewel of the Athens Games, 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin, was not retested, according to ARD. This is despite the fact that two years later, in 2006, the American tested positive for anabolic steroids - precisely the same doping agent found in the five Eastern European medal winners.

These revelations are regarded as scandalous among doping experts. The WADA, sports doctor and well-known gene doping researching Perikles Simon, condemned the IOC.

"My impression is that the IOC did not want to retest these samples," he said. "We know now that there were athletes in Athens who later tested positive for doping. It would obviously be very important to view these athletes accurately."

The discussion about retests from Athens and with it the seriousness of the IOC's anti-doping fight will go on.