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IOC to retest Beijing dope samples
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The International Olympic Committee will retest doping samples from the Beijing Games to check for traces of a new blood-boosting drug.

The unprecedented move, announced yesterday, is designed to search for a banned substance that was only recently detected during retesting of samples from the Tour de France.

The Beijing samples across all sports are being sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited laboratory in Lausanne, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said.

The IOC conducted more than 5,000 drug tests during the Beijing Games. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the samples will be retested.

The samples will be reopened and tested for CERA, a new generation of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO. The substance boosts an athlete's performance by increasing the number of oxygen-rich blood cells.

Details of the testing procedure are under discussion with WADA, Moreau said.

"This clearly demonstrates the determination that there is zero tolerance (on doping), and that we will use all the means available to catch the cheaters," IOC vice president Thomas Bach of Germany said.

The IOC stores samples from the Olympics for eight years, leaving open the possibility to retest them when new detection methods are devised.

Bach suggested the new tests should target endurance sports in which CERA would be most beneficial to athletes.

The decision comes after a new lab test used by the French Anti-Doping Agency detected CERA during retesting of samples from Tour de France riders. The original urine tests had raised suspicions but proved inconclusive.

"It's very good. It allows us to confound the cheaters," Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme said on Tuesday. "What's being done at the Tour de France has never existed in the world of sport."

Officials confirmed on Tuesday that German rider Stefan Schumacher, and Italians Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli had tested positive for CERA at the Tour. The three riders combined to win five of the Tour's 21 stages.

Bach said that the future of men's road cycling in the Olympics could be threatened unless the sport cleans up its act under the aegis of the international cycling union, or UCI.

If the entire sport doesn't pull together to improve the situation, "then you have to consider giving men's road cycling a pause" from Olympic participation, Bach said.

In a statement yesterday, Moreau said, "The IOC will continue to support the UCI - and any other international federation - as long as it is deploying meaningful and credible means and efforts to fight against doping."

The IOC disqualified six athletes for doping during the August 8-24 Beijing Games.

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily October 9, 2008)

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