It seems to be an unwritten expectation by many that athletes will cheat to win. But for those Olympic athletes who chanced taking performance enhancing drugs (PED) during the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games, if found out, they may very well be banned from competing in the Rio Games that are less than three months away. Kept for 10 years in a Swiss laboratory, doping samples from both the 2008 and 2012 Games are being retested. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a news release that the retesting is using “the very latest scientific analysis methods.”

The IOC has already retested 45 doping samples from the Beijing Games and found 31 athletes who could wind up in hot water. While not releasing any names at this point, the athletes represent 12 nations and six different sports. The athletes will be subject to disciplinary hearings and will definitely be banned from Rio if it’s determined that they broke anti-doping rules. The IOC is also retesting 250 samples from the London Games.

Evidently, the 2008 official slogan of “Zero Tolerance for Doping” didn’t keep all the Beijing athletes on their best behavior even though officials conducted 4,770 doping tests, making it the largest number of tests run at the time.

According to Matt Bonesteel of The Washington Post, “Six eventually had their medals taken away, either because of anti-doping tests conducted at the Games themselves, retesting of samples conducted in 2009 or, in one case, a retroactive ban after Georgian shot-putter Andrei Mikhnevich had his samples from the 2005 world championships retested (his results from 2005 onward were nullified). The Norwegian men’s show-jumping team was stripped of its bronze medal after the horse ridden by Tony Andre Hansen was found to have prohibited capsaicin in its urine.”

In addition to retesting samples from Beijing and London, the IOC has also asked the World Anti-Doping Agency to conduct an investigation of the alleged-state-run doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games created by the Russian government. In a misplaced need for national pride, it now it seems clear why Russia led in the Sochi medals count with 33, 13 of them gold. This followed their sixth place finish in Vancouver four years earlier.

In another Times article by Bonesteel last week, Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of Russia’s anti-doping agency began an elaborate scheme to evade anti-doping protocols. It began by creating a steroid-liquor cocktail that increased an athlete’s absorption of the PEDs and then finished by actually swapping dirty urine with clean urine. Here is the link to that article:

Saying that all this effort is a powerful blow to the cheaters, IOC president Thomas Bach said in the release that “cheats know that they can never rest. 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.”


By Connie Wardman


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