The International Olympic Committee (IOC) re-analyzing urine and blood samples from the Olympic Games gives “hope for clean athletes and the people who are the real fair players,” said World Anti-Doping Agency vice president Yang Yang.
With the eight-year statute of limitations reached in August, the IOC’s further re-analysis of 2012 London Olympic Games samples is drawing to a close. In the retests starting from 2015, the IOC confirmed to Xinhua that a total of 65 positive cases have been revealed through the IOC-initiated re-analysis as of April 28 this year, compared to nine anti-doping rule violations during the Games in 2012.
“Analysis methods have improved significantly and have become more sensitive in recent years. This, for example, allows for greater detection of long-term metabolites with the result being more cheats are caught,” Yang explained the move. “Also, the process of selecting samples for re-analysis is now more targeted, based on intelligence and other risk factors.”
According to data collected by Olympedia which was obtained by InsidetheGames, the final tally of positive cases from the 2012 Games, is over 100 after doping tests managed by the IOC and the International Federations (IFs) as well as WADA.
London Games chief Sebastian Coe once lamented in 2016 “It would be delusional to say the London Games was ‘in the words of many yesterday’ dirtier than Games before.”
Yang, however, believed it proved IOC’s move had been effective to expose cheaters and protect clean athletes.
“Even it is disappointing to see the number of violations like this, I hope the further analysis of samples over time, as science advances, is a powerful means to protect clean sport,” she said. “Athletes who have broken the rules know that they could still be caught years later. As such, retrospective analysis is an important tool for catching cheats and a deterrent for those considering it.”
In 2019, the IOC approved a budget of up to 5 million US dollars spreading over 10 years, to be allocated in a long-term storage program managed by the International Testing Agency (ITA).
The program will cover the long-term storage for up to 10 years of the samples collected by IFs and National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Potentially, 22,000 samples could be kept within this program.
“The long-term storage of samples for re-analysis really gives hopes for clean athletes and the people who are the real fair players,” said the former IOC member.
“I feel extremely sorry for athletes who did not receive their medals at the time and who missed out on their moment of glory. However, it is still critical that they receive due recognition for their performances, even if it is after the fact,” she added.
At WADA’s World Conference last year in Katowice, Poland, Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk and British javelin thrower Goldie Sayers were awarded their rightful Olympic medals, a gold and a bronze respectively, after their fellow competitors were disqualified following anti-doping rules violations.
Yang said it depends on the collective efforts of the sports world to protect clean athletes.
“Of course, it would be much better if cheaters were prevented from competing in the first place and clearly there is a need for the anti-doping community to collectively improve doping control effectiveness further, including in the build-up to major events,” she said. “When it comes to the Olympic Games, following recommendations from WADA via its Independent Observer reports, this process is now well coordinated through the pre-Games Taskforce funded by the IOC and led by the ITA.”
According to Yang, WADA provides general advice and support to the IOC and the ITA as they implement the re-analysis program. Enditem