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September 7, 2000
200 more EPO tests to be addedJulian Linden
The International Olympic Committee said on Thursday it would add 200 more tests for the drug EPO as doping scandals threatened to overshadow the run-up to the Sydney Games.
The IOC originally planned only 301 tests for stamina-boosting erythropoietin.
"If the first batch of 301 tests goes well, then we will make a second batch of 100-200 tests," IOC medical commission member Patrick Schamasch said.
The decision came a day after China said it had dropped 27 athletes from its Olympic team, including some for "suspicious" test results.
An official from Uzbekistan's Olympic team was caught at Sydney Airport on Thursday trying to bring in human growth hormone.
The IOC, under fire for the last two years for corruption, was applauded last month for approving a combined blood-urine test for EPO in time for the Sydney Games on September 15.
The IOC began the tests, developed by Australian and French laboratories, a day after the athletes' village opened on September 2.
Schamasch said that around 20 tests had been conducted by Thursday and the first results were expected soon.
He said the tests were mostly random although special attention was paid to endurance athletes such as cyclists, long-distance runners and swimmers. "We are focusing mainly on endurance sports," Schamasch said.
"All the other sports may be tested but because we only have a limited number of tests we don't want to waste it."
EPO stimulates the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. It is produced naturally but if it enters the body artificially it can be fatal, making the blood thick and gluey and breaking down the entire circulatory system. EPO was one of the drugs involved in the 1998 Tour de France doping scandal and put intense pressure on sporting authorities to take tough action against the abuse of performance-enhancing substances.
Schamasch said the IOC had spoken to China to clarify just how many of the 27 athletes had failed doping tests.
He said scientists at a doping laboratory in Beijing had told the IOC that they had conducted their own stringent tests but said only seven were confirmed as having returned positive tests.
"The Chinese scientists have applied some index that is much higher or lower than the IOC wants in order to be more cautious than less cautious," he said.
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