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Blood tests debut


SHERRYLYN A. TOPPIN in The Bahamas

Blood tests debut

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NASSAU – For the first time in the history of the CARIFTA Games, anti-doping officials took both blood and urine samples from athletes.
And according to Dr Jerome Lightbourne, chairman of the Bahamas Anti-Doping Commission, recent high-profile doping cases have spurred the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to modify their strategy.
They are now establishing base profiles, starting with young athletes who could potentially star on the world stage later.
“We must all now do ten to 20 per cent of our sampling as blood,” Lightbourne told MIDWEEK SPORT.
“We have changed those rules because there are many samplings that we cannot test for right now and many people are making drugs we don’t have the answer for.
“We need to store blood seven, ten years down the road to make sure if something comes up, we’re ready and have those samples available because urine only lasts for so long.”
For more than a decade, American cyclist Lance Armstrong denied he had ever used performance-enhancing drugs only to confess last year.
Also in 2012, several European athletes who had placed at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, were stripped of their medals, and six from Russia and Belarus, including three gold and two silver medalists, were caught after their samples from the 2005 track and field World Championships in Helsinki were retested.
Lightbourne said that in Australia they were exploring options of bringing criminal charges against people involved in doping violations.
Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates said WADA’s testing was ineffective at catching cheats and they wanted to add the threat of jail time as a deterrent.
“The criminal entities have gotten into doping and we are talking about a billion-dollar industry,”?Lightbourne said. “That just fired us all up and we need to be careful and push this.
“We need to fight our battles as best we can, and blood testing helps us do that,” he said of decisions made at a recent meeting in Switzerland.
Lightbourne didn’t say how many tests would be done at the Nassau games, but all of the record-breakers would be tested as well as others who have been randomly selected.
“I think it is only fair to say every country, every athlete, every parent, and every coach would agree that it is very important for an athlete to play fair and to be performing against another human being, other athletes, rather than an athlete plus a performance-enhancing drug,” Lightbourne said.
Prior to the start of the games, four Barbadians were tested and the members of the Under-20 girls’ 4×100 metres relay team were also chosen after that event.
“They had a little warning before that they could do blood or urine. I don’t think they expected to do both at the same time, but they handled it quite well,” team manager Maureen Dottin said.
Nine Jamaicans were also among those tested before competition got under way.

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