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Seven years after the Beijing Olympics were held, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that it intends to retest samples from the Games in order to try to catch users of banned substances.
IOC medical director Richard Budgett stated on Wednesday that some retests have already been done from Beijing, the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver plus the 2012 London Olympics.
In total hundreds of samples will be re-examined, using the latest testing methods and techniques.
“Even if it’s five or ten years later, it’s really an important thing to do,” he said, according to AP. “It’s not ideal. You want to do it as close as possible to the time, but if you’ve got no option but to do it later, then that’s what you have to do.”
The IOC has stored samples in a lab at Lausanne. WADA rules previously included an eight year statue of limitations, but this has been extended to ten years in the latest WADA Code.
Budgett told AP that the Beijing retests will use what is termed the ‘long-term metabolite’ method.
This can detect the use of steroids going back several months, making it far more sensitive than the previous test which only picked up substances ingested days beforehand. There is also a more sensitive test for EPO.
“You can look back at something that you couldn’t report as positive in the past and say, under the new rules, we can report that as positive,” he stated.
He said that some of the retests would be delayed closer to the expiry date in 2018. “Who knows what tests are going to be developed over the next two years?” he stated. “It makes a lot of sense to wait another couple of years for the majority.”
The IOC previously retested some samples from the Beijing Games. In 2009 it announced that Olympic road race runner-up Davide Rebellin had tested positive for the EPO-like substance CERA.
Budgett did not state if further cycling samples from 2008 would be tested.