Every doping sample taken at Beijing 2008 will be retested by the International Olympic Committee to check for traces of the newly-discovered blood-boosting drug CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator).
The IOC conducted more than 5,000 doping tests during this year's Games, and the spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau confirmed today that every sample would be re-examined by the World Anti-Doping Agency's laboratory in Lausanne. The decision to test for CERA, an advanced version of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO, was taken after the drug was detected in Tour de France samples that had previously been passed as clean.
Doping officials are still retesting samples from this year's Tour de France, and further positive results are expected. "I imagine there could be one or two more cases," suggested the race director Christian Prudhomme after officials confirmed yesterday that Germany's Stefan Schumacher and Italy's Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli, who won five of the Tour's 21 stages between them, had tested positive for CERA.
The IOC vice-president Thomas Bach told reporters yesterday that road cycling could lose its status as an Olympic sport altogether if the recent spate of positive tests continued. Moreau was more conciliatory today, stating that: "The IOC will continue to support the International Cycling Union and any other international federation as long as it is deploying meaningful and credible means and efforts to fight against doping."
Six athletes were disqualified for doping during the Beijing Games and three more cases are pending.