Olympic Drug Cheats Still Being Found

LONDON (AP) - The IOC is still uncovering drug cheats eight
months after the Beijing Olympics ended.

The International Olympic Committee, staying true to its pledge
to fight doping, said Tuesday that six athletes have been nabbed by
retesting their blood samples for CERA, an advanced version of the
blood-boosting hormone EPO.

A person familiar with the results told The Associated Press the
latest tests caught three track and field athletes, two cyclists
and one weightlifter.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the names
haven't been released by the IOC, said a male track and field
athlete who won only one gold medal was one of the athletes. The
other medalist was in cycling.

The IOC did not identify the athletes or sports involved, saying
it was notifying the competitors through their national Olympic
committees.

The Italian Olympic Committee said one of the six was an Italian
athlete, though it declined to name him. The Italian news agency
ANSA identified him as cyclist Davide Rebellin, silver medalist in
the road race.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said the
federation hadn't received notification from the IOC of any adverse
findings involving a U.S. athlete.

"Unless we hear otherwise, we are treating no news as good
news," Seibel said.

The IOC reanalyzed a total of 948 samples from Beijing after new
lab tests for CERA and insulin became available following the
Olympics. The testing began in January and focused mainly on
endurance events in cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics.

"The further analysis of the Beijing samples that we conducted
should send a clear message that cheats can never assume that they
have avoided detection," said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC
medical commission.

Coaches, athletes and anti-doping organizations welcomed the
announcement, saying it helps restore credibility to Olympic
sports.

"I'm in favor of anything they're doing to clean up the
sport," said Glen Mills, coach of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt,
who won three gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100
relay - all in world-record times.

Bolt "has not heard anything - and he will not hear anything,"
Mills said by telephone from Jamaica.

The IOC will wait for word from the national Olympic bodies
before holding any disciplinary hearings. Athletes found guilty of
doping face being disqualified from the Olympics and stripped of
any medals they won.

The positive findings were based on "A" sample test results.
Athletes will be allowed to ask for a testing of their backup "B"
samples.

In the meantime, national and international bodies are free to
impose provisional suspensions of athletes, the IOC said.

A Greek race walker, Athanasia Tsoumeleka, announced in January
that she had tested positive in the new Beijing checks. Tsoumeleka,
who finished ninth in Beijing in the 20K walk, was charged by a
Greek prosecutor earlier this month with using banned drugs.

The IOC previously disqualified nine athletes for doping at the
Aug. 8-24 Olympics. In addition, there were six doping cases
involving horses in the equestrian competition.

The IOC has already stripped four athletes of Beijing medals -
Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska (silver), Belarusian hammer
throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy (silver) and Ivan Tsikhan (bronze) and
North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su (silver and bronze).

The IOC is storing doping samples for eight years so they can be
tested retroactively when new detection methods are developed.

The World Anti-Doping Agency welcomed the IOC findings. Under
the WADA code, athletes can be disciplined up to eight years from
the date of a doping violation.

"We suggest that athletes who may be tempted to cheat keep this
reality in mind," WADA president John Fahey said. "We believe
that retrospective testing serves as a strong deterrent."

Lauryn Williams, a member of the U.S. track and field team in
Beijing and a 2004 silver medalist in the 100 meters, also backed
the testing system.

"To go ahead and weed out the cheaters is a good thing," she
said. "To find out there are additional cheaters is not a great
thing."


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