Rogge hails success of Olympic anti-doping program
LONDON (AP) — Even before the flame was out, IOC President Jacques Rogge said efforts to fight doping at the Olympics were a success.
Through Sunday morning, only one athlete tested positive for a banned substance on the day of competing at the London Games. Seven more were caught in doping controls conducted since the official testing period for the games began July 16. One of the seven competed in London before her test result was known.
"I think that is a sign that the system works," Rogge said at a news conference. "I am happy about the fact that we could catch athletes who cheated, both before the games and at the games."
Rogge said a further 117 out-of-competition cases were recorded since April, preventing athletes from getting to the Olympics.
"This is 117 cheats who are not going to affect the results of the clean athletes," Rogge said.
The IOC had said this would be its most extensive Olympic anti-doping program. It took almost 6,000 urine and blood samples, including no-notice tests ahead of athletes competing.
Rogge cautioned that some samples are still being analyzed and "we might hear something tomorrow or the day after. Hopefully not, but you never know."
The IOC's commitment to prevent the kind of scandals that tarnished previous Summer Games prompted former World Anti-Doping Agency leader Dick Pound to remark that any athlete caught had failed twice: "a drugs test and an IQ test."
The only athlete to test positive after an event was U.S. judo fighter Nick Delpopolo, with traces of marijuana in his urine sample.
Delpopolo blamed "inadvertent consumption" before he left the U.S. of food baked with the substance. The IOC disqualified him from seventh place in the 73-kilogram class.
While that case was likely not performance-enhancing, Syrian runner Ghfran Almouhamad tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine two days before her 400-meter hurdles heat. She placed eighth and was eliminated before the IOC disqualified her.
The London Games was expected to showcase a more effective test for human growth hormone. The "biomarker" test searches for effects of using HGH and extends the detection window for scientists from three days to three weeks. Still, no athlete has been caught using growth hormone at an Olympics.
Despite Rogge's satisfaction at keeping "cheats" away, the IOC would have preferred that some medal-winning stayed home. A rule excluding athletes who since the 2008 Beijing Games completed a doping ban of more than six months was overturned last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The reprieve allowed cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan to win the men's road race; Tatyana Lysenko of Russia to win the woman's hammer throw; another Russian, Darya Pishchalnikova, to get silver in women's discus; and American sprinter Justin Gatlin to take 100-meters bronze behind Usain Bolt.
Rogge said a revised rule should be enforced after the World Anti-Doping Code is updated next year.
"We believe that with the support of WADA we will have a rule that will not be declared invalid," he said.
Other gold-medal winners at London who previously served bans of more than one year for doping include Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey in the women's 1,500 and Tunisian swimmer Oussama Mellouli in the men's open-water event.
Unlike in Beijing, the London Games is set to end with medal standings in all 302 events unaltered by doping scandals.
Three Beijing events were tainted during the games, and two more medals were changed months later when a new test for the blood-booster CERA was introduced. The signature men's 1,500-meter gold medal was stripped from Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain.
Rogge reminded that the IOC will store all samples from London and can reanalyze them, revise results and reallocate medals until the statute of limitations expires in August 2020.
"When there is no new tests, we wait until the last moment; if there is a breakthrough new test, we'll test immediately," he said.
Indeed, the next Olympic doping scandal could be from the 2004 Athens Games instead. Next week the IOC could announce up to five new disciplinary cases based on retested samples.
Already at London, the Belarus team said it sent home hammer thrower Ivan Tsikhan because of suspicions over a sample provided after his silver-medal performance in Athens.