Olympic doping probe stretches back to Vancouver, Turin results
Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, German biathlete, fails drug test in Sochi Games
The International Olympic Committee has started retesting a "handful" of doping samples from Vancouver's Olympic Games in 2010, a clear signal that it is targeting some athletes for potential doping infractions.
The IOC announced last year that it would retest samples from the 2006 Turin Olympics, just as it has gone back to test samples retroactively from the 2004 and 2008 summer Olympics in Athens and Beijing.
Until recently, the IOC stored samples for eight years, allowing for retesting if authorities obtain information and more sophisticated detection methods become available. Under the new World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code, the window for storing samples has now been increased to 10 years to further deter potential cheats.
Still, authorities have waited just four years to go back and re-analyze some samples from the winter Olympics in Canada.
"We will target the samples from Vancouver who we have very specific intelligence about, specific substances that might have been abused for which we might have different tests that we can do," IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told CBC.
Specific sports, nationalities and names remain secret, but endurance sports such as cross-country skiing and biathlon, as well as power sports like bobsled, are often speculated about, because banned substances such as Erythropoietin (EPO) and other anabolic substances can boost performance.
Officially, the IOC has said it's waiting until after the Sochi games to reveal results of the retests, which include some 350 samples from the Turin Olympics.
A retired Estonian cross-country skier, however, is already challenging the findings, indicating there is at least one positive "A sample" from the Turin batch.
"All I know is that there have been a number of positive tests arising out of Torino, but we haven't got the information or what they call the … document package to say who it is, whether it's more than one person or even what the substance is," Canadian IOC member and former WADA head Dick Pound told CBC.
In the week before these Games started, reports emerged that three biathletes — two Russians and one Lithuanian — were suspended for failed tests and wouldn't be competing in Sochi.
"I think we can actually believe all the athletes when they're here are clean," Budgett said. "Because so many of them are being tested and they know their samples are being stored for 10 years."
That illusion was broken Friday morning with news that Germany's two-time Olympic cross-country skiing champion Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italian four-man bobsleigh member William Frullani were thrown out of the Sochi Olympics on Friday after testing positive for drugs.
Sachenbacher-Stehle, who was competing in the biathlon in Sochi but did not win a medal, tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanamin with the second sample tested on Friday.
Frullani, a police officer by profession, was dropped from the team due to compete on Sunday after testing positive for the substance dymetylpentylamine, and left the village.
The substance, identified as a stimulant in the World Anti-Doping Agency code, can be found in nasal decongestants.
"You have to be an idiot to be caught at the Games because there is so much testing going on," Budgett says.
With files from Adrienne Arsenault and Reuters