Tougher Anti-Doping Tests Await Athletes in 2012 London Olympics

By @vitthernandez on

Athletes who compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London will face tougher anti-doping tests next year. For the first time, a new test to catch blood dopers and users of human growth hormone will be used, the BBC reports.

Professor David Cowan, the scientist in charge of the tests disclosed at the British Science Festival in Bradford, said besides the two new tests, there would be a new laboratory to carry out 6,000 tests during the games.

Cowan said the biggest problem for anti-doping testers is sportsmen storing and transfusing their own blood, which increases the number of red blood cells substantially and improves the athlete's endurance by allowing more oxygen.

Over the past three decades, several high-profile Olympians have been accused of engaging in autologous blood doping, but game organizers could not prove the charges due to lack of effective tests.

Cowan said the new test would compare the age of blood samples by examining the genetic component of red blood cells.

"We're working on a scheme where the nuclear materials, not in the nucleus itself, but the RNA materials in the cell has been shown to change and we are hoping that using those markers we'll be able to distinguish stored blood from blood that's in your body naturally," Cowan told the BBC.

Another test on the pipeline is for gene doping.

"I will never guarantee what we can delivery by a particular time. That's the nature of research. We're working very quickly on this; the progress is very exciting. I would put it the other way round, if you're an athlete be careful. We may have a test in crime,"  Cowan warned.

If scientists are hopeful of catching cheaters, British police are not so positive that they could cope if the August riots that erupted in London and spread to other English cities erupt again during the Olympics.

"If we are facing exactly the same as we were faced with on the Monday night (of the riots), with the resources we've got now, we still wouldn't be able to cope with it," 2012 London Olympic Games Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison told the Herald Sun.