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Exclusive News From ARD German TV News Programme: New Methods for Detecting Anabolic Steroids Lead to Hundreds of Positive Doping Tests

COLOGNE, Germany, November 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

In recent months, two European doping control laboratories have - largely unnoticed - discovered an alarmingly high number of doping cases using improved detection methods. Based on information from the editorial staff who work on doping at the German public television broadcaster ARD, the laboratories in Cologne and Moscow have this year tested hundreds of samples from athletes that have turned out positive for the anabolic steroid Oral-Turinabol, known from the state-run doping programme in the former East Germany, and the substance stanozolol, which Ben Johnson was found guilty of using in the 1988 Olympics. Such a high number of positive test results in one fell swoop is unprecedented in laboratory doping analyses. According to information from the laboratories, all of these samples would have remained undetected in 2012, as the detection windows for the substances were significantly shorter with the conventional detection method.

Grigory Rodchenko, head of the Mosow control laboratory, who tracked down Oral-Turinabol, the drug of choice in the GDR, told the ARD editorial staff working on doping: "With this detection method, 100 urine samples have now tested positive that would previously have turned up negative." Rodchenko estimates the detection window for identifying the substance after it has been administered now to be six months or more, thus significantly longer than before. This is also true of the substance stanozolol, which has already been discovered in well over 100 urine samples at the Cologne laboratory thanks to the improved detection method. Cologne doping analyst Hans Geyer confirmed: "By my count, we have hundreds of positive cases that we would otherwise never have found."

The two substances are classic anabolic steroids and are considered highly effective. "Traces of Oral-Turinabol were discovered, for example, in urine samples from the pre-competition testing at the 2013 World Athletics Championships," Moscow laboratory director Rodchenko confirmed. Oral-Turinabol at one time led to severe damage to the health of former East German athletes.

Cologne laboratory analyst Hans Geyer considers it sensible from a biochemical perspective to now also retest samples from all major sporting events with the new detection methods soon. "With these improved procedures, it will definitely be possible to isolate positive cases in high-risk sports," he said.

Talking to the ARD editorial staff, Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC's Medical Commission who shared responsibility for this retesting, expressed his surprise at the high numbers. The IOC member called for frozen doping samples from Olympic Games to be retested: "This case is a good example of the necessity of performing re-tests on Olympic doping samples. I would certainly conduct retests here. We have the mandate for that, after all." As a result of the eight-year limitation period that runs until the end of 2014, all doping samples from the Olympic Games since 2006 would come into consideration. The Director General of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), David Howman, considers it equally advisable that the IOC deal with this issue: "We can only recommend the re-tests, but we don't lecture. But we believe that information of this kind should be passed on to the IOC. If we make a sensible recommendation based on sensible facts I think that others will implement it."

These news will be transmitted at the tv-magazin "sport inside" (Monday, 18 November 2013, 22:45 CET) by WDR Cologne, which is part of the ARD German Television.  


Uwe-Jens Lindner

WDR Press and Information

Phone: +49-(0)220-2217123

SOURCE WDR/ARD (German Public TV-Broadcaster)
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