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|August 17, 2000||
Aus athletes urged to give blood to fight dopeGreg Buckle in Sydney
Lee Naylor, chairwoman of the Australian athletes' commission, on Wednesday urged all Australian track and field athletes to donate blood for drug testing.
Speaking at a news conference at Sydney's Olympic Stadium ahead of the three-day national championships which start on Thursday, the 400 runner said, "I would hope that 100 percent of the track and field athletes would take up the opportunity. But I'm also not naive enough to say track and field is not completely drug-free. If I thought that there were no drugs in sport, I wouldn't be asking for this initiative."
Asked what her reaction would be if some of her teammates chose not to take part, she said, "To be perfectly honest, I guess we probably would have to be suspicious."
Talk about banned performance-enhancing drugs is likely to dominate the build-up to the Sydney Olympics which open on September 15. Some scientists believe that testing blood as well as urine could help to catch more cheats.
Former Australian Olympic discus competitor Werner Reiterer rocked the sport in Australia in July when he said some of Australia's top athletes were using a banned human growth hormone.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) immediately announced a full inquiry but Reiterer then refused to name names to an independent investigator, so the inquiry was cancelled.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has yet to introduce a test for growth hormones although it does have urine tests for steroids and other substances.
Athletics Australia (AA) chief executive Simon Allatson said the blood samples, collected in a combined effort with the AOC, the Australian Sports Drug Agency and the Australian Sports Commission, would be held in storage until IOC-approved tests for the use of hormonal drugs were in place.
"If the testing protocols haven't been signed-off by the IOC then we are certainly not going to be using them before the Games," Allatson said.
"No athlete is going to be condemned by the athletes' commission or by Athletics Australia for not giving a sample of blood, it's purely a voluntary program."
The Australian track and field team hold a pre-Games camp from August 27.
"It's a PR exercise, absolutely, because we're always the subject of bad press I guess," Naylor said. "Every time there is a minor drug story the press love it, you absolutely go bananas.
"We don't seem to be able to avoid this horrible shadow of doubt over our track and field athletes. So I think in doing something proactive and taking some responsibility ourselves, that's a way that we can at least feel like we're doing something."
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