The International Olympic Committee has begun retesting frozen urine samples from the 2006 Turin Olympics using an improved steroid testing method – and has come up with hundreds of new positive tests, according to a report by German television station ARD.
Speaking to the Associated Press, IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist confirmed that the IOC is retesting the Turin games using a new procedure, although he couldn’t verify the “hundreds” figure. The IOC should have official results of all the testing by the end of 2013.
Ljungqvist did appear on the German television report Monday night, saying that the test results would likely lead to the IOC retesting stored urine samples from the 2008 Beijing games as well.
The new testing method is called “long-term metabolites testing,” and it allows testers to catch steroids taken more than six months prior to the test, as opposed to the previous testing method, which had a much shorter window for detection.
The banned substances that reportedly turned up in the recent tests were Oral-Turinabol, made famous as a staple of the state-run East German doping program of the 70s and 80s, and stanozolol, which has led to multiple high-profile cases including the stripping of a gold medal from Canadian runner Ben Johnson in 1988.
Oral-Turinabol made headlines in the swimming community this year when Russian Nikita Maksimov was suspended for two years after testing positive for the drug back in March.
A handful of swimmers have received bans and suspensions over the past few years for stanozolol, including two this year. Bulgarian Alexander Nikolov was suspended for 2 years in March, and Estonia’s Anita Stepanenko received a 1-year ban after a hearing this summer determined that her coach had put stanozolol in her drink without her knowledge. The coach, Nikolai Borzov, received a lifetime ban.
FINA also lists several more bans for stanozolol, including Brazilian Diego Candida Prado in 2012 and India’s Surya Prasad Sharma, whose ban just ended this month.
The IOC holds on to urine samples for 8 years, meaning it can still test the athletes of the 2008 Beijing games when new testing methods are discovered. The Athens and Beijing games have each been retested once.
But if the IOC did indeed find hundreds of new positive tests, the results would be unprecedented for retroactive drug testing – for reference, previous retests of Athens and Beijing athletes have produced a combined 10 new failed tests.