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  • Fight Against Doping -- Greeks Banned, Passports Approved


    Greece will compete in weightlifting at the Beijing Olympics, but it will take heavy lifting to medal with top contenders banned for two years. (Getty Images)  
    Greek Weightlifters Banned, Team Able to Compete in Beijing

    The 11 Greek weightlifters at the center of a doping scandal have been banned for two years by the sport’s governing body, but the team will still compete in Beijing, albeit with fewer competitors.

    "The athletes concerned, as well as the Greek federation, were duly sanctioned," the International Weightlifting Federation said in a statement following an executive board meeting.

    “Greece had obtained Olympic quota for 5 men and 3 women. The Hellenic Olympic Committee, the Hellenic Weightlifting Federation and the IWF agreed that Greece would enter only 3 male and 1 female weightlifters to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,” the IWF added.

    In May, it was announced that 11 weightlifters failed drug tests; their former coach and 13 officials were implicated in the scandal.

    Christos Iakovou, the coach who was banned, is said to have been the mastermind. Iakavou coached the Greek weightlifters who captured 12 medals in the past four Olympics.

    Biological Passports Approved

    The International Cycling Union has new weapons in its anti-doping arsenal. The union last Friday approved the use of biological passports and a new “no start” rule to catch and punish drug cheats.

    The vote means the passports will be put into UCI rulebooks next year; the no-start rule says riders will not be compete in an event if they return a suspect test 15 days prior to a race.

    "The cycling world is 100 percent behind the biological passport scheme," UCI president Pat McQuaid said after the meeting in Denmark.

    Biological passports were created in January with assistance from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has since withdrawn its support. The program requires riders to submit a blood sample to the UCI, which can be compared to other test samples taken throughout the year to see if there are changes that could result from performance-enhancing drugs.

    Tests indicating a variation in the rider’s blood will then be referred to a panel of experts who will decide appropriate action.

    All riders must submit their whereabouts to the federation to allow for random out of competition testing.

    Bombshell Rocks Finnish Skiing

    A former Olympic coach claims the Finish Skiing Association is the nation’s largest distributor of performance-enhancing drugs.

    Kari-Pekka Kyro, who coached Finland’s cross-country ski team in the 90s, made the allegations to the Finnish News Agency on Tuesday.

    The former coach says Pekka Vahasoyrinki, who was then head of cross-country skiing at the FSA, supplied him with EPO. He also says doping was systematic in the sport during the 90s.

    Kyro was found guilty of smuggling performance-enhancing drugs in 2004.

    The allegations came after the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation decided to re-examine the FSA’s involvement with drugs in the decade.

    Vahasoyrinki did not return calls from Finnish media.

    The FSA has vehemently denied any associations with doping.

    Allegations of doping are not new for the FSA. At the 2001 Nordic Skiing world championships, six Finnish skiers were sent home for failing drug tests. In 1998, a Helsinki court found a newspaper editor guilty of libel against 19 plaintiffs for similar claims made by Kyro.

    During the period Kyro claims Finnish skiers were doping, Finns took home nine Olympic medals, including three golds,


    … American sprinter Jerome Young accepted further penalties for doping.
    Jerome Young (second left) agreed to forfeit all results from when he started doping. (Getty Images)  
    Young was banned for life and lost an Olympic title for doping in 2004. He agreed on Tuesday to return his 2003 world championship in the 400m and to forfeit all results since 1999. Young admitted to taking EPO as far back as 1999.

    … Udi Gal, one of Israel’s top medal prospects in Beijing, tested positive for Finasteride, a drug for hair loss that requires WADA permission to use. The Olympic Committee of Israel announced the results of the May test on Monday. The OCI recommended further tests for Gal and will decide his fate as a competitor once more tests are conducted.
    Dr. Jacques Asharov, head of the Israeli anti-doping committee, said he was surprised to hear about the story. "I'm amazed by the fact that there are no secrets in this country. The only three people who are supposed to know about this are myself and two other people in the Olympic Committee. We haven't analyzed the additional tests yet, and if they're negative, the entire test will be rendered negative."

    …The International Rowing Federation says it will approve the WADA Code at the federation’s 2008 Ordinary Congress in July.

    Media Watch

    Voice of America has a series on how doping could overshadow the Beijing Games.

    A report in the Washington Post says doping’s effects may only be psychological.

    Written by Ed Hula III.

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