German anti-doping lab finds 266 positive cases using new test
A German anti-doping laboratory using a new steroid test has found 266 positive cases in the past year and is finding other positives in retesting of old samples.
Cologne lab scientist Hans Geyer revealed detailed figures Friday at an anti-doping conference hosted by FIFA.
The lab found 184 cases involving stanozolol, the banned drug used by sprinter Ben Johnson at the 1988 Olympics, and 82 of oral turinabol, a steroid widely used in the former East Germany.
Geyer said many of the positives since November 2012 involved athletics, weightlifting and wrestling, and all were reported to the World Anti-Doping Agency and sports governing bodies.
"It was surprising for us, we didn’t expect that many," Geyer told reporters on the sidelines of the conference. "Most of them were from the first half of this year."
German broadcaster ARD reported this month on the testing at the Cologne and Moscow labs, and the IOC confirmed it was using the improved method to retest samples from the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.
Cologne scientists have used a Russian-developed test which detects steroids in smaller quantities for around six months after athletes took them.
Previously reported cases this year included dozens of track and field athletes in Turkey, while the International Weightlifting Federation identified 29 athletes on its website who were banned this year for using one or both of the two steroids.
Geyer said he was surprised that no athletes challenged the lab results, which typically follows the introduction of a new test method.
"We expected many objections, many outrages (from athletes) but nothing happened. This is very unusual for a lab," he said.
More cases are being revealed in re-tests requested by sports bodies, which the scientist did not identify, and have shown10 percent positives.
However, Geyer said no new cases have been revealed in testing of samples from cyclists, footballers or German athletes.
"I think it’s a success of this strategy to look for long-term metabolites, but the best deterring effect is the long-term storage (of samples)," he said.
Geyer suggested that the improved test showed the limitations of previous strategies to catch drug cheats.
"Maybe the athletes always knew how long we could detect these substances," he said. "Maybe the out-of-competition (testing) system doesn’t work."
The IOC has said the new test will be used at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February. It will also be used in the planned retesting of samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics before the eight-year statute of limitations expires in 2016.