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The International Olympic Committee's plan to retest samples from the Beijing Games is proof that it intends to walk the talk on doping.

How times have changed. A couple of decades ago, there remained a sense of embarrassment about doping within the Olympic movement, a feeling that having to test was a necessary evil. Any positives were treated like a red sock in the white wash, something that tarnished the movement's image. In other words, it was best not to draw attention to them.

Not any more. IOC president Jacques Rogge, the medical man, sees doping for what it is: Fraud that threatens sport's credibility.

His view is that it cannot be swept under the carpet, it has to be tackled head on. And going back through all those tests from Beijing looking for third generation EPO abuse certainly sends out the right message.

Senior figures in the anti-doping world are sure this re-testing will throw up a few more names, possibly medallists. And deciding to re-test across all sports says "we suspect no-one and everyone."

Samples can be held for up to eight years and thus re-examined whenever a new test becomes available. It's therefore getting increasingly difficult for cheats to hide, more risky for them to try to dupe the system. That should mean, in turn, fewer people chancing their arm, with sport all the more cleaner as a result.

Rogge's attitude remains that the Olympic movement has to wear the discomfort of cheats trying, and in some cases succeeding, in using the Games to prosper. He just wants to make damn sure it does not do so willingly. We won't have heard the last of this.

Gordon Farquhar is BBC 5 Live's sports news and Olympics correspondent. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 2:56pm on 08 Oct 2008, Habs24 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 3:26pm on 08 Oct 2008, boomshakalak wrote:

    It is about time that ALL sports associations got super tough on these issues.. it should be that not only are athletes automatically banned for life from all copmetition (not just olympics) but they have any earnings made during their career taken off them.. why should people who cheat ive in mansions and have huge wealth when they have simply cheated... i'm sorry but these vermin are not hurt enough by having medals taken away from them as they didn't care enough about the sport / spirit of winning them to not cheat in the first instance. they should be banned from all sport - made bankrupt and ideally put in prison if this is/was possible.... lets clean it up... even if we start taking action on people 10+ years ago... lets get it sorted... why should genuine competitors who DESERVE to win medals and get the associated riches miss out to cheats... it makes me mad!... my blood is boiling!

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  • 3. At 3:27pm on 08 Oct 2008, George Rule wrote:

    Isn't it a criminal offence to obtain money by deception?

    If an athlete gets any sponsorship at all it is because he is an athlete that is deemed to be clean, certainly if they are a medal winner they get their contracts because of that.
    So if drug taking has happened and they are stripped of their medals they have committed fraud and should be jailed as fraudsters.

    That ought to concentratae a few minds.

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  • 4. At 3:35pm on 08 Oct 2008, staminaj wrote:

    The scariest thing for me personally is that Jamaica do not have an out of competitiion testing regime. No one is denying that they are a nation of supremely talented individuals that produce fantastic athletes, but how can this be allowed to continue?

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  • 5. At 3:47pm on 08 Oct 2008, RubberNutz wrote:

    Hi Gordon,
    Is there any indication that this action is the result of a 'tip-off' in regard to any of the results at the olympics?

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  • 6. At 3:54pm on 08 Oct 2008, Icecold_00 wrote:

    I agree, am half Jamaican and greatly enjoyed the Olympics. However as talented as Usain Bolt undoubtedly is, his achievements will always be questioned (and rightfully so). And continue to be until Jamaica has an out of competition testing program. But that isn't what this article is about. I don't mind the testing of recent samples, however after reading the possibility of Armstrongs samples being retested from 1999 i am skeptical as to how untainted they would be. Also how big a sample is taken? Is the whole of the A sample used? Without both the A and B surely no bans can be enforced?

    Sam

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  • 7. At 4:21pm on 08 Oct 2008, chelsea are the champions wrote:

    is there any indication how long this processs will take? weeks? moths? when will the cheat be caught!? they will be shaking in their boots!

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  • 8. At 4:23pm on 08 Oct 2008, Ryushinku wrote:

    There could potentially be some real fireworks, but it's an absolute necessity. As said, the attitude of the IOC has changed with this and it's ultimately all for the better.

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  • 9. At 4:24pm on 08 Oct 2008, mancsylynch wrote:

    I think it originates from the fact that some cyclists were caught in the Tour using this test. and now two more have been caught from their samples in the tour as the test has been developed.
    I think the worrying thing is that only 4 sports seem to do tests on the blood of the athletes. This means that sports such as swimming could be getting away with quite a lot( remember the Irish female swimmer who came out of nowhere). I believe that all sports should do the same testing and have the same punishments. Whilst the athlete is primarily at fault i do think that the governing bodies also need to weed out the suppliers, dealers, doctors and coaches who encourage systematic doping and force athletes to take drugs.

    I believe that athletes should be given life bans automatically and only reduced to two years if they work with the authorities and name their suppliers and coaches who were involved in the doping process, and then no athlete is allowed to work with these people. At the moment all that happens is they move on to the next athlete

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  • 10. At 4:29pm on 08 Oct 2008, hizento wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 4:48pm on 08 Oct 2008, Yellowterror wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 5:21pm on 08 Oct 2008, donprestoni wrote:

    @10

    Please re-read the article, note what it says about Cera benefiting any sport that requires stamina, accept that ALL samples are being retested, then come back and apologise for your petty jealousy and prejudice.

    Any cheats, in any event, of any nationality that get caught by this can only be a good thing.

    It sends out the message that there is a very high chance cheats will be caught. Even if there is no test for your performance enhancing drug of choice at the moment, are you willing to bet there won't be one till the samples are destroyed in 8 years?

    I accept that UK athletes could get caught by this. I hope that none have got involved in this but I'm not daft enough to think it doesn't happen. Still if any are caught it will be great news as it means we can divert their funding to someone who deserves it.

    The ones positive side to having such an aggressive media must be that they act as a deterrent to anyone contemplating actions that would give the media any ammo to use against them making their life something of an embarrassment for the foreseeable future.

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  • 13. At 7:19pm on 08 Oct 2008, Bart24 wrote:

    I also support this initiative and think (as stated above) that it is inspired by the testing in cycling, more specifically in the Tour de France.
    Hopefully it will contribute to cleaner Games in the future, though there will always be cheats. That's why I think it's a good thing when people get caught. In testing all these samples again, you'd say IOC thinks the same.
    But on the same day, IOC suggests that the position of cycling as an Olympic sport might be reconsidered, which is not in line with their anti-doping stance in my opinion. In doing so, they would punish the sport which is fighting doping hardest and thus stimulate other Olympic sports not to test on doping as much as is done in cycling...

    What do you think?
    Bart


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  • 14. At 09:40am on 09 Oct 2008, Ash wrote:

    I think there should be an "Assisted Olympics". Would be interesting to see how fast/high/stong atheletes would get... Although from what I hear, this is pretty much the standard Olympics...

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  • 15. At 10:20am on 09 Oct 2008, cypriot-capitalist wrote:

    What has taken so long? It's about time they start making this a regular affair, insted of publicizing such insufficient occurences expecting a pat on the back. Unfortunately, it seems they wait until another sport (i.e cycling) gets damaged (once again) and then take actions to protect their own image.

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  • 16. At 10:24am on 09 Oct 2008, cypriot-capitalist wrote:

    Rafa's Magic Box Beard

    -------------------------------------

    The 'tip off- seems to have come from two sources from my perspective.

    Firstly, it's a 'newton's balls' effect from the under-age claims of certain athletes and Usain Bolt's achivements.

    Second, as I mentioned earlier, the findings of new doping-methods previously 'under the radar' in cycling I believe has caught the eye of the IOC

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  • 17. At 12:22pm on 09 Oct 2008, hott1074 wrote:

    It is right that the IOC re-test the samples. and across all sports. No doubt athletics and swimming is expected to show the most positive results if there is any.
    Jamaica has come in for a lot of creticism for not having an out of competition drugs testing program. But i was wondering why that same creticism hasnt been laid at the other top athletics countries that hasnt got such a program. Kenya for example. But i guess its the event. The sprints.

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  • 18. At 12:26pm on 09 Oct 2008, Saintsforever wrote:

    Glad to see that samples are being retested. What is also critical is the reliability of the new EPO drug tests, over which there can't be many stats. We can do without the notorious nandrolone false positive scandals of the past. The drug testing system has previously been self-righteous without being professional or using common sense. Hopefully in the future it will protect innocent atheletes, while catching those that cheat, rather than disqualifying those that have used the wrong cough medicine!

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  • 19. At 12:34pm on 09 Oct 2008, HymieD wrote:

    With reference to CERA and the Tour De France testing it seems the Tour was the first time CERA had been specifically looked for. From what I gather, WADA pre-emptively approached the labs manufacturing it, (it's is used to assist recovery in renal failure patients or something similar) and asked for a marker molecule to be introduced into the process.

    At the time of the Tour, the test required 3 seperate days' worth of sample material. This was then combined, and reduced to concentrate the traces of CERA contained within. The testing procedure must now been improved, allowing the AFLD a more efficient method of testing Tour samples. This new method must obviously be efficient enough that the IOC's lab in Switzerland feels confident in handling 5000+ samples. No mean feat.

    However, the biggest test, I (cynically) fear is the fallout from an inevitable large number of failures that the IOC will have to manage. I trust that Msr Rogge and his colleagues nail all the offenders to the wall, with none of the inconsistencies that often occur in cycling due to it's political battle of wills between different organisations vying for supremecy.

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  • 20. At 1:07pm on 09 Oct 2008, Rob Ball wrote:

    Unequivocal support for the IOC. Regrettably any positive test will mean more profit for moral free lawyers. Even now the issues are fudged - one strike and your out sine die should be the universal standard.

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  • 21. At 04:53am on 10 Oct 2008, LairdDrambeg wrote:

    #19 There is no "marker molecule" - this was a false story picked up from a misstatement by the president of WADA, John Fahey. What happened was that Roche, the CERA mfr, supplied the anti-doping labs with a chemical formula for the new drug molecule, and "assay reagents", in advance, so that tests could be devised pro-actively.

    As for drug cheating, it's been related on some forums that there are "doctors" who can produce bespoke molecules by just slightly altering an existing drug so that it becomes undetectable by the testing labs. If this is true it would mean that the leading edge of doping will always be ahead of the testers and even be able to frustrate any attempts at detection: if you don't know what to look for, how can you find it?

    While I support the anti-doping efforts 100%, I'm not optimistic about eradicating drug use in sports - the stakes are so high, the methods so sophisticated and the human metabolism is not a chemical reaction flask. I've also no doubt that there *have* been false positives, which have been, disgracefully, leaked to the press, notably through the "collaboration" between Chatenay-Malabry labs and L'Equipe. The Ian Thorpe case stands out here and has had curiously little publicity recently. We'll see what the Australian court case brings but if the anti-doping authorities cannot live by their own rules, what hope is there for honesty by anyone?

    Yes, I'm disgusted by the dope-cheats but I find the grand-standing by the anti-doping "leaders", like e.g. Dick Pound and his guilt by suspicion tactics, equally revolting. Mr Fahey getting his foot in his mouth on the "marker molecule" is just another example of their misbehaviour. The president of WADA is not and should not be a celebrity. The whole regime is infested with dishonesty and chicanery and it's time to clean it up.

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  • 22. At 7:06pm on 14 Oct 2008, sportslisty wrote:

    Good!

    It's about time that drug use in sport was taken seriously.

    What people who condone this behavior don't realise is that cheating sends out the wrong message, that it's OK to cut corners and not work hard to get what you want, because if you take these magic pills you'll get it anyway. This behavior is highly immoral and totally out of order!

    As a scientist and seeing the consequences of these drugs at close quarters, I know what lasting and irreversible damage these performance enhancing drugs can wreak on the human body and mind. Believe me, it's not pretty and it has blown many families apart.

    From the latest evidence, these drugs last many years in the human body. Anything between 10-15 years. This means that a drug cheat - even after returning from a ban - will continue to benefit from their drug taking. The bans should go from 4 years to life for this reason.

    Also, any prize and sponsorship monies should be recovered, as it was obtianed under false pretences. As this is the norm in
    criminal cases; therefore, any athlete, who has been proved beyond reasonable doubt as a drug cheat, should be brought before a criminal court to be tried for the crime of fraud. If this was implemented, athletes would think twice before deliberately undertaking a performance enhancing drugs programme.

    Remember, cheats should never, ever prosper.

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