Retest of 2008 Beijing Olympic Samples Find 31 Guilty of Doping
Thirty-one athletes representing 12 countries and six sports may be barred from competing in Rio de Janeiro for this summer’s Olympic Games, due to a new round of testing conducted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on doping samples from the 2008 games in Beijing. The IOC has yet to release the names of the athletes, the countries they represent, or the events they compete in.
Tuesday’s announcement from the IOC was the result of using “the very latest scientific analysis methods” on 454 total samples of athletes who competed in Beijing and were poised to compete in Rio. The IOC saves samples for ten years after they’re initially procured for retesting as new methods for identifying banned substances are developed.
In a statement, IOC president Thomas Bach assured all clean athletes that justice will be served to those who cheat:
All these measures are a powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win. They show once again that dopers have no place to hide… By stopping so many doped athletes from participating in Rio we are showing once more our determination to protect the integrity of the Olympic competitions, including the Rio anti-doping laboratory, so that the Olympic magic can unfold in Rio de Janeiro.
The IOC also retested 250 samples from the 2012 London games. Results of those retests will be released shorty, the IOC said.
A report released in November by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that found Russia complicit in a decades long, elaborate state-sponsored doping program, renewed efforts to clean up Olympic competition, long marred by doping scandals. (Read Law Street’s deep dive into that issue).
New details emerged last week, when Grigory Rodchenkov, director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, spoke with the New York Times about his country’s ornate doping schemes during the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
Belated punishment for Olympic athletes years after they won a medal is hardly new to Beijing. Following a retest of 100 samples from the 2004 Athens games, four athletes were stripped of their medals due to anabolic steroid use.
As the specters of the Zika virus and Brazil’s scandal-plagued government loom over the Rio games in August, Tuesday’s results and those soon to be released from the London games are sure to shake things up even further.