LONDON, July 24, 2008 (AFP) – Major doubts have been raised over a key doping test just weeks before the Beijing Olympics, according to a BBC probe released on Monday – sparking fears that cheats are going undetected. The investigation found that World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) laboratories are classing positive tests for the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO) as negatives – opening up the possibility that cheats are not being weeded out.
The findings led Professor Bengt Saltin – a top anti-doping expert – to paint a bleak picture of widespread EPO use at the Games.
“I would think that most of the medal winners and many in the finals of endurance events – there is a big risk for them having used EPO. Of course, they have to be clever but they don’t have to be very clever,” he said.
Dr Rasmus Damsgaard, who runs the anti-doping programme for the International Ski Federation and the Astana Cycling team, says he has clear proof that positive EPO tests are being misdiagnosed.
Dr Damsgaard sent samples from skiers to a WADA lab for analysis earlier this year and they came back negative – but when he requested a breakdown of the results he found what he said was conclusive evidence of EPO use.