Six cheaters indicated in new testing

April 29, 2009 

LONDON – Eight months after the closing ceremony, the IOC is uncovering more drug cheats from the Beijing Games.

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 said 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 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 the athlete. 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 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.

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 can 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.

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