Gene testing to catch months-old doping may be available for 2020 Olympics

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A new test to catch blood doping long after it happens might be ready in time for the Olympics in Tokyo, IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday.

“With research on genetic sequencing progressing well, this new approach could be a ground-breaking method to detect blood doping, weeks or even months after it took place,” Bach said at the World Conference on Doping in Sport, which opened Tuesday in Katowice, Poland.

The test has been in development since 2006 by University of Brighton professor Yannis Pitsiladis, The Guardian reported.

Bach said the IOC has taken steps to preserve past samples for future testing that can give deserving medalists their due years after the fact.

“We want the cheats to never feel safe, any time or anywhere,” Bach said.

The “cheats” aren’t just the athletes, Bach warned. Anti-doping work must also look at those who work with athletes, he said, which may require help from governments.

“Whether it was the systemic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia or the investigations around Operation Aderlass or the most recent allegations against the coach of the former Nike Oregon Project all these cases, as different as they are, highlight the urgent need to focus much more on the athlete’s entourage.

“The athlete is not the only culprit. The athlete is supported and sometimes even driven to or forced into doping by a secretive network which may include coaches, agents, dealers, managers, officials from governmental sport organizations, doctors, physiotherapists or others.”

Bach also announced a $10 million pledge from the IOC to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The conference is taking place in the home country of the incoming WADA president, Witold Banka.

Outgoing WADA president Craig Reedie hailed the agency’s progress but noted it was ill-equipped to deal with large-scale challenges such as the systematic doping in Russia, laid bare by a pair of devastating reports by investigator Richard McLaren in 2016.

“There will always be those who try to destabilize the anti-doping system,” outgoing WADA president Craig Reedie warned.

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