More than 30 booted from Winter Games
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — With more than 30 athletes already prevented from competing in Vancouver, World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey predicts cheats are more likely to be caught at these Olympics. Fahey confirmed Thursday that more than 30 athletes had been excluded for doping violations in recent months. The cases are a mix of positive samples and failure to comply with testing protocols. Hours after Fahey's news conference, the International Olympic Committee announced the first doping violation of the games: Russian hockey player Svetlana Terenteva was reprimanded but escaped a ban after testing positive for a "light stimulant." The substance — tuaminoheptane — is contained in prescription cold medication and is banned during competition but not out of competition. Terenteva, a forward who played in four world championships, said she used the drug Rhinofluimucil in Russia to treat a cold last month and stopped using the medication when she arrived in Vancouver on Feb. 3, a day before the Olympic drug-testing program began. Evidence of the stimulant appeared in a doping control three days later. Fahey refused to give details of the more than 30 athletes who had been excluded from Vancouver, but noted that more than 70 athletes were prevented from competing at the Beijing Olympics for violating doping rules in the similar period leading into the 2008 Summer Games. He said it was becoming more and more difficult for drug cheats to avoid detection. "Athletes who seek to cheat at these games, it's more likely they'll be caught than in any other games in our history," Fahey said. "The approach that's been taken around the world by national Olympic committees and anti-doping agencies (is) to ensure that they are not going to be embarrassed by having cheats represent their nation. It's good. It's weeding out the cheats." Fahey said the cases were spread across more than one sport and one country. "I don't try to put too much of an emphasis on how good, or how small the number is," he said. "Either way, it indicates we're effective. It's a number I don't think you can ignore. That's why I say it's significant." IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist told the IOC general assembly on Thursday that he does not believe these 30 cases emerged suddenly. "I don't know exactly what they are," he said. "They are routine cases that have been accumulated over the months leading up to the games. We have read some of them in the newspapers fairly recently." About 2,000 drug tests are being carried out during the games, including surprise, out-of-competition checks at training sites and other locations outside the venues. About 1,200 tests were conducted at Turin in 2006. As of Wednesday, the IOC said it had collected 634 doping samples since the opening of the athletes' village on Feb. 4. Alexander Derevoyedov, deputy head of the Russian anti-doping agency, told ITAR-Tass news agency Thursday that every Russian selected for the Vancouver Olympics had undergone testing. Russian athletes will be under tight scrutiny at Vancouver. More than a half-dozen Russians have been suspended in the past year for using blood-boosting drugs. Derevoyedov said some athletes have been subjected to five or more tests. Fahey said increasing cooperation among doping agencies, law enforcement and governments and collaborative work with pharmaceutical companies was improving drug testing in sports. "We're getting better. The weaponry that's being used is far more effective," he said. "People focusing on quality, not quantity. There was a time when the thought was 'if you blanket-test everybody, then you'll pick up some.' Now, with the sharing of information, they're able to target test. Makes us far more effective." An independent observation panel led by former White House deputy drug czar Scott Burns will monitor the tests during the games. The panel will meet daily with the IOC to report any suggestions or concerns. NHL players who compete in Vancouver will have been under WADA's testing regime since Oct. 15, despite the league not being fully compliant with the WADA code. Fahey said he didn't anticipate any more problems from hockey than from the Olympic sports federations that are fully compliant. "I think I can say the ice hockey people have been under scrutiny for several months now," Fahey said. "I'm not concerned about it."