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September 8, 2000
IOC rejects test for human growth hormoneJohn Mehaffey
The International Olympic Committee rejected a test for human growth hormone (HGH) because it did not believe the test was reliable enough to withstand legal challenges, an IOC spokesman said on Friday.
The IOC commissioned a report from an independent group of scientists to examine research from a project funded by the IOC and the European Union which concluded it was possible to test for the performance-enhancing substance.
At a news conference on Friday, Franklin Servan-Schreiber said the scientists concluded the test was "not promising enough and too expensive" but added: "We are eager to find a test for human growth hormone which will withstand a legal challenge."
Servan-Schreiber said the IOC had decided not to continue to fund the study but to concentrate instead on finding a test for EPO (erythropoieten).
The IOC has introduced a dual test for EPO, which stimulates the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, for the Sydney Olympics opening next Friday.
IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said 45 random tests had been conducted so far for EPO as well as 95 standard urine tests. He said there had been no positives.
Doping has dominated the build-up to the 2000 Games after China announced it was withdrawing 27 athletes from its team, in a possible reaction to the IOC announcement on EPO testing.
Two women weightlifters from Taiwan and a Canadian woman hammer thrower have also withdrawn from the Games.
HGH is the major problem facing the international sports federations after the introduction of successful tests for stimulants and anabolic steroids.
Australian customs officials seized several vials of HGH from an unidentified coach on Thursday in an uncomfortable echo of the 1998 Chinese swimming scandal. Thirteen vials of HGH were found in the bags of Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan at Sydney airport on her way to the 1998 world championships in Perth.
The doping problem in international sport will again be highlighted next week on the day before the opening ceremony when the International Amateur Athletic Federation's (IAAF) arbitration committee meets to decide its outstanding drugs' cases.
The athletes whose fates will be decided include Germany's 1992 Olympic 5,000 metres champion Dieter Baumann and Britain's Commonwealth 400 metres silver medallist Mark Richardson.
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