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IOC looking at new gene doping test

Published:Saturday | July 30, 2016 | 7:00 AM

RIO DE JANEIRO, AP:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is looking at a new test for gene doping, although it won't be used at the Rio de Janeiro Games, the IOC's medical and scientific director said.

The new test developed in Australia to identify if an athlete is artificially adjusting their DNA to enhance performance is not yet in use at a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory, Dr. Richard Budgett told The Associated Press.

But the new procedure, when and if approved by WADA, will be used to test samples from the Rio Olympics after the games to see if any athletes were gene doping, Budgett said.

CATCHING CHEATS

"The samples collected in Rio will at some point be tested for gene doping (after the games), but we have a principle, we will not put in place a test that hasn't actually been used yet by a WADA-accredited laboratory," Budgett said in a phone interview.

The IOC can re-test doping samples up to 10 years after an Olympics, enabling it to catch drug cheats who evaded detection at the time when new testing methods become available.

The gene doping test is designed to detect if cheats are injecting synthetic genes which cause the body to produce more of the naturally-occurring hormone Erythropoietin (EPO), which in turn boosts the body's ability to carry more oxygen in its blood.

There is already a test to pick up if athletes are directly injecting EPO, the substance at the heart of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal in cycling. This test is designed to pick up if subtle changes have been made to DNA to make the body produce the extra EPO.