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AOC Seeks Cycle Test Clarification

March 23, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The Australian Olympic Committee, seeking to avoid possible legal challenges by athletes at the 2000 Games, has asked the IOC for clarification on blood testing of cyclists.

AOC president John Coates, also seeking a test case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the legality of neck-to-ankle bodysuits for swimmers, now wants the IOC to confirm it will back bans resulting from doping tests conducted by the international cycling federation (UCI).

The UCI will conduct the blood tests of cyclists in the leadup to and during Olympic competition, using its own medical staff and protocol.

The UCI conducts blood tests at all its major international events, including the Tour de France. The IOC has not yet sanctioned a universal blood test to implement in Sydney.

Coates said he was pleased the UCI was conducting the tests at the Olympics. But he had concerns about legal challenges from banned cyclists if athletes in other sports were not subjected to blood testing.

``I’m not sure where (blood testing procedures in cycling) sits with the IOC medical commission, particularly if there is a ruling that an athlete should be withdrawn from the games following a positive test,″ he was quoted saying in Thursday’s Sydney Morning Herald.

The UCI introduced blood cell tests _ which it refers to as ``health checks″ _ to combat the use of erythropoietin (EPO) within the sport.

The IOC’s current doping testing procedure is restricted to the analysis of urine samples provided by athletes and cannot detect EPO.

Because the ``health check″ is not an absolute test for EPO, the UCI disqualifies cyclists who show positive results from competition on the grounds that the athlete would be endangering his or her health by competing.

The IOC and the Australian government is funding research at the Australian Institute of Sport to formulate a blood test to detect EPO. Researchers are confident a valid test will be produced before the Olympics. Sydney 2000 organizers have measures in place to implement blood testing as soon as the procedure is approved by the IOC.

Cycling Australia president Ray Godkin said ``EPO is running riot″ in endurance cycling events and the UCI was determined to test cyclists from all 53 nations qualified for the Olympics.

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