Ever since China was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games, questions have been raised over the anti-doping procedures that would be carried out during the games.
With many performance enhancing drugs available for purchase over the internet from sources in China, and with the countries patchy record in suspicious 'now you see them, now you don't' performances, China hasn't always been viewed as the best place for the biggest sporting event in the world.
Perhaps mindful of this all along, the IOC have today announced some of the details of just what they will be doing in August in order to catch the cheats. The press release reads as follows:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) emphasised today that the anti-doping effort at the Beijing Summer Games will be more extensive than ever. More than 4,500 tests will be administered ? 25 percent more than were conducted in the 2004 Games in Athens and 90 percent more than the number of tests in Sydney in 2000.
?At the International Olympic Committee, we are at the forefront of the effort to eradicate doping,? said IOC President Jacques Rogge. ?Most athletes compete honestly and fairly,? said Rogge. ?They treasure the Olympic experience. We owe it to these athletes ? who train so hard ? to ensure the Games are as free of prohibited drugs as possible.?
During the period of 27 July through 24 August, the IOC, in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG), will test the competitors at any time and at any place. In a change of policy, athletes will be tested whether they are at an Olympic venue, the Olympic Village or a far-away training facility. All controls will be coordinated under the IOC, while WADA will conduct pre-competition controls during the Olympic period on Olympic athletes not in Olympic venues and BOCOG will conduct controls at the Olympic venues.
In a briefing with journalists, the Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, Arne Ljungqvist, said the ability to detect doping is improving. ?While it is to our advantage to not release all the details, enhanced testing will be administered in Beijing,? said Professor Ljungqvist. ?You can expect continued efforts to detect human growth hormone (HGH) and EPO.?
The IOC has been engaged in the fight against doping for almost 50 years. The IOC began a list of banned substances following the 1960 Olympics in Rome, established the IOC Medical Commission and in 1999, founded WADA.
This year, those caught using a prohibited substance will face increased penalties. An athlete who tests positive will be denied the right to participate in the next Olympic Games. This ban will extend to those caught breaking the doping rules from 1 July 2008 and forward.
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