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|August 29, 2000||
Australian officials welcome EPO rulingGreg Buckle in Sydney
Australian sports officials on Tuesday welcomed the decision to approve tests for the endurance drug EPO at the upcoming Sydney Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland, to approve the blood and urine tests for the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO (erythropoietin).
"We're well-advanced in our planning and our implementation," Sydney 2000 spokesman Scott Crebbin said on Tuesday.
Out-of-competition testing will start on September 2, he said, with a minimum of 400 EPO tests carried out in September.
Australian Sports Drug Agency (ASDA) chief executive Natalie Howson said it had struggled at times to locate athletes for out-of-competition testing. Some had given mobile numbers as contact numbers and screened calls to avoid testing.
"We'll know where they are," Crebbin said.
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) spent three years creating the world's first blood test for EPO while the urine test was developed by the French.
EPO, the drug at the heart of the Tour de France doping scandal in 1998, is believed to be widely used by athletes in endurance sports and events such as long-distance running, swimming and cycling.
Injected in synthetic form, EPO enhances stamina by increasing the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. Experts say it can improve performance by up to 15 percent.
Howson told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio on Tuesday that she couldn't guarantee that all cheats would be detected but said: "It will be...the most rigorous anti-doping campaign in the lead-up to the Olympics that we've ever seen. Any athlete can expect a random blood test."
Australian Federal Sports Minister Jackie Kelly said on Tuesday the new tests meant Sydney would have the world's toughest anti-drug programme.
"We now have an effective and reliable way to catch EPO cheats," Kelly said, arguing that the decision vindicated $1.5 million the federal government had spent funding research for the tests.
However, New Zealand Sports Drug Agency chief Graham Steel said on Tuesday it was unfortunate the IOC had been forced to go for a combined blood-urine test, with an athlete having to fail both to be penalised.
"The blood test will detect use for some weeks (after it happens), whereas with urine, it's only a few days," Steel said.
"So it may well be that the blood test will pick up a number of people who have been using it, but that may not be able to be validated by the urine test."
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