- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

LONDON — The IOC is looking into whether drug tests at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics can be rechecked for the recently discovered steroid THG, IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said yesterday.

Lawyers for the International Olympic Committee are studying the legality of retroactive testing of frozen urine samples taken to Los Angeles from the temporary Olympic drug-testing laboratory at the University of Utah’s Research Park.

“The samples exist. Now we have to look into all the juridical issues,” Schamasch said in a telephone interview from IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“We are reviewing all these different issues, of course,” he said. “Once we have all the information on the potential legal issues, my proposal will be to ask our president [Jacques Rogge], and he will decide.”

The IOC also is asking scientists if the frozen 19-month-old samples are viable.

“We want to be sure that the quality of the sample is still good in order not to face any legal issue with a potential degradation,” he said. “It’s a very sensitive issue. It’s not a simple process for a long-term storage sample. It’s easier when you have to go into an event which took place three or four months ago. When you have to go to an event that took place almost two years ago, it’s more complicated.”

Dr. Don Catlin, who heads the Olympic drug-testing laboratory at UCLA, where 200 to 300 samples from the 2002 Winter Games are stored, said in a telephone interview yesterday that retesting is still possible for THG, a previously undetectable drug.

Catlin, whose lab performed the drug testing at the 2002 Games, developed a test for THG after an unidentified track coach sent a syringe of the substance to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has urged retesting of all stored samples worldwide. International track and field officials plan to retest 400 samples from the world championships in Paris in August.

“Everybody around that has old samples is interested to know whether they could or should retest them for THG,” Catlin said yesterday. “There are a number of legal issues. They want to know if the samples are stored under chain of custody. There are a myriad of issues that arise.”

The IOC’s doping rules only require drug testers to keep backup samples of positive tests for 90 days, but backups of negative tests must be kept for 30 days.

Catlin’s lab has samples from as far back as the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and retested them last year for testosterone levels. Such testing is done more to determine the stability of such samples over time.

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