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Doping chief queries ‘insane’ tests at London Olympics and insists Lance Amstrong scandal was wake-up call

Lance Armstrong pictured during his revelations in an interview with Oprah Winfrey (right). Photo: George Burns/PA Wire Lance Armstrong pictured during his revelations in an interview with Oprah Winfrey (right). Photo: George Burns/PA Wire

Friday, June 21, 2013
11:56 AM

Britain’s anti-doping chief has labelled the amount of tests carried out at the London Olympics as “insane” after 5,000 tests in three weeks led to just nine positive findings during the Games.

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Andy Parkinson, chief executive of UK anti-doping, has called for Olympics organisers to be allowed to test athletes in the months leading up to Games rather than in the three-week period of the event.

Of the nine positive tests in London, only three were from athletes tested during their competitions - the other six were out-of-competition tests.

Parkinson said: “The resources can be better deployed.

“Five thousand is an insane amount of samples in just three weeks of the Games, and six out of the nine positive tests were before the athlete took to the field of play.

“If you said the London Olympic Games has 5,000 samples but spread over three months that has to be a much better use of resource and a better use of money.

“Most of us would accept if there is doping occurring then it is before the event itself.”

Parkinson said the ongoing review of world anti-doping code could allow major event organisers to extend their the jurisdiction for the months in advance of the Games.

“The challenge you have got is organising committees who want their programmes to be judged as of high quality and the way they do that is numerically,” he added, pointing out that Sochi’s anti-doping director announced last week that 2,500 drug tests will be conducted at next year’s Winter Olympics, about 350 more than at the 2010 Games.

Parkinson attended the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s European summit in London this week to push his message and added that the Lance Armstrong drugs scandal was a wake-up call for those who relied solely on traditional tests at events.

“This guy never returned a positive test,” he said. “We need to be thinking very differently if we are going to catch serial cheats.”

Parkinson said he was encouraged the IOC president Jacques Rogge has backed quality over quantity in terms of tests, but that organising committees would have to be watched carefully to ensure they did not use this simply as an excuse to save money.

Meanwhile, Parkinson described as “astonishing” that a Spanish judge had ordered blood bags seized during the Operation Puerto doping investigation to be destroyed. The decision is still the subject of ongoing legal action by Spanish anti-doping authorities who want the blood analysed.

“Rather astonishingly the judge said all the blood bags are to be destroyed - that’s to put it mildly a shame and not the best example of how law enforcement can work with anti-doping authorities.”

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