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IOC to take 2,453 samples in Sochi anti-doping drive

17 Feb 2014
Sochi, Russia: One of the top priorities of the IOC is to protect clean athletes by spearheading the war against doping in sport. To this end, the IOC is overseeing the most stringent anti-doping programme in the history of the Olympic Winter Games during Sochi 2014. From the opening of the Olympic Village on January 30 to the Closing Ceremony on February 23, a total of 2,453 tests will be conducted, breaking the record for the Olympic Winter Games by 304 tests over Vancouver 2010. There will be 1,944 urine tests and 509 blood tests. Some 572 tests will include urine EPO detection.

Smarter and more targeted testing is also taking place. Of the tests being conducted, 1,269 will be implemented pre-competition, a 57 per cent increase from Vancouver 2010. In total, the IOC will be spending more than USD 1 million on pre-competition testing, transport, storage and retesting for the Sochi Games.

“Like at London 2012, perhaps even more here, we use intelligence information that we have coming from various sources, including national anti-doping organisations, International Federations, National Olympic Committees, government agencies and WADA,” Arne Ljungqvist, Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, told reporters at a press briefing.

“This information is about athletes, groups of athletes, suspicious behaviour, things like that, which can result in target testing on the group of athletes or athletes, which is a way of making use of our resources in an efficient way.”

Post-competition testing typically includes the five top finishing athletes and two athletes chosen at random. Compared to Vancouver, the Sochi post-competition tests have been redistributed to focus on ‘higher risk’ sports and team sports.

Another important change that was recently introduced is that samples will now be kept for 10 years. These samples may be tested retroactively should new detection technologies become available.

“The message to the athletes as a result of the longer statute of limitation is that if you cheat, if you take drugs, even if we don’t catch you now we will certainly catch you sooner or later. That is an important deterrent message,” said Ljungqvist.

In addition, the IOC Executive Board recently created a fund of USD 10 million aimed at improving anti-doping research, including new techniques for the detection of prohibited substances and methods. The IOC has called on world governments represented in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to match this amount.

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