SOCHI, Russia: The International Olympic Committee is adjusting its tactics at the Sochi Games to send a stark warning to potential doping offenders—if we don’t get you now then we will catch you later.
The IOC will be overseeing almost 2,500 doping tests at these Winter Olympics, with a reduced emphasis on post-competition tests and more on pre-competition in a bid to catch potential offenders unawares.
Meanwhile, greater use is being made of intelligence from various sources—including governments—to carry out target testing on suspect athletes.
Testers are also being helped by new rules that will expand the statute of limitations on drug test samples to 10 years, meaning that the IOC will be able to carry out tests on the urine and blood samples taken in Sochi using new techniques that may arise.
“The message to athletes is that if you cheat and if we don’t find you now, we may find you later. But we will certainly find you sooner or later,” IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said in Sochi.
“This is an important deterrent message.”
The IOC’s medical director Richard Budgett said while the Olympics body was in charge of the anti-doping campaign, the actual testing was being carried out by the Sochi organizers and Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada).
Rejecting concerns about Rusada’s record, he said its Sochi lab had full accreditation from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
“We are absolutely confident that that is protected and that is safe,” he said.
’Armstrong used standard substances’
Ljungqvist said that a key change for the Sochi Games was the increase in the number of tests that are being done precompetition as opposed to the “traditional” post competition tests.
Of the 2,453 tests that are to be conducted in Sochi, some 50 percent will be precompetition, he said.