IOC retested nearly 500 doping samples from 2006 Games

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LONDON (AP) — Nearly 500 doping samples from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin have been retested with improved techniques to try to catch any cheaters who escaped detection a decade ago, the IOC said Wednesday.

The International Olympic Committee did not disclose whether the retests had produced any positive cases, saying it would announce any findings "in due course."

The IOC stores Olympic doping samples so they can be retested years later when enhanced detection methods become available. Any positive findings can lead to retroactive disqualification and loss of medals.

The original eight-year statute of limitations was recently extended to 10 years under the World Anti-Doping Code. Next month marks the 10-year anniversary of the Turin Games.

The IOC said it retested 489 Turin samples — out of a total of 1,219 — at the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Lausanne.

"The re-analysis program included the application of new and improved methods of detection since 2006," the Olympic body said in a statement. "The IOC cannot and will not issue further comments with regard to this process, nor will it answer questions, at this point in time. Further communications will be issued in due course."

It wasn't clear exactly when the new tests were carried out, or whether they included previous retests.

When the original eight-year deadline was set to expire in 2014, the IOC announced in 2013 that it would retest about 350 Turin samples based on intelligence that targeted athletes and events considered most at risk for doping. The IOC said it would use an improved test that could detect steroid use going back months, rather than days.

The results of those tests were kept confidential for legal reasons. At least one positive case was believed to remain under review.

In 2014, the Estonian Olympic Committee said retired cross-country Olympic champion Kristina Smigun-Vahi was suspected of doping based on retests of Turin samples.

In 2010, the IOC retested some Turin samples for insulin and blood-booster CERA but all came back negative. Those samples were destroyed, so the latest tests are on different samples.

Only one positive case was recorded during the Turin Games, with Russian biathlete Olga Pyleva stripped of a silver medal after testing positive for a banned stimulant. In addition, Italian police raided the lodgings of the Austrian cross-country and biathlon teams during the games, seizing blood doping equipment and other substances. No Austrians tested positive at those games, but the IOC later banned several for life.

Five athletes were caught in retests of samples from the 2004 Athens Olympics, including men's shot put winner Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine. Retests of samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics led to five positive cases for CERA — with Bahrain runner Rashid Ramzi stripped of gold in the 1,500 meters.

The IOC said last year it plans to retest hundreds more samples from the Beijing Games before the deadline expires in 2018.

"Even if it's five or 10 years later, it's really an important thing to do," IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told The Associated Press in an interview last March. "It's not ideal. You want to do it as close as possible to the time, but if you've got no option but to do it later, then that's what you have to do."

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