IOC: Retested Turin samples negative

Doping samples from the 2006 Turin Winter Games that were retested for a new blood-boosting drug have come back negative, the IOC said Friday.

The IOC decided in 2010 to retest the samples for the presence of CERA, an advanced version of the endurance-enhancing substance EPO.

Doping samples from each Olympics are stored for eight years to allow for retesting. A validated test for CERA only became available after the Turin Games.

”We are pleased with the negative results, but this will not prompt us to let up in our efforts to stamp out cheating in sport,” IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist said.

The move to retest the samples came after the World Anti-Doping Agency said in May 2010 that it had received information that CERA could have been in Turin before the substance was put on the market.

Like EPO, CERA boosts the production of red blood cells in the body, increasing an athlete’s oxygen uptake. Several cyclists tested positive for CERA during the 2008 Tour de France, prompting retesting of samples form the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Beijing retests led to five athletes being caught for using CERA. The most prominent was Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain, who was stripped of his gold medal in the 1,500 meters.

There was one positive test during the Turin Games, with Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva stripped of a silver medal after testing positive for a banned stimulant.

In addition, Italian police raided the lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team outside Turin, seizing blood-doping equipment. No Austrian athletes tested positive at the time, but six were later banned by the IOC for involvement in the scandal.

Also Friday, the IOC said that all samples from last month’s Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck came back negative. Nearly 300 urine and blood tests were analyzed at the WADA-accredited lab in Seibersdorf, Austria.