In recent months, two European doping control laboratories have – largely unnoticed – discovered an alarmingly high number of doping cases using improved detection methods. Based on information from the editorial staff who work on doping at the German public television broadcaster ARD, the laboratories in Cologne and Moscow have this year tested hundreds of samples from athletes that have turned out positive for the anabolic steroid Oral-Turinabol, known from the state-run doping programme in the former East Germany, and the substance stanozolol, which Ben Johnson was found guilty of using in the 1988 Olympics. Such a high number of positive test results in one fell swoop is unprecedented in laboratory doping analyses. According to information from the laboratories, all of these samples would have remained undetected in 2012, as the detection windows for the substances were significantly shorter with the conventional detection method.
Grigory Rodchenko, head of the Mosow control laboratory, who tracked down Oral-Turinabol, the drug of choice in the GDR, told the ARD editorial staff working on doping: “With this detection method, 100 urine samples have now tested positive that would previously have turned up negative.” Rodchenko estimates the detection window for identifying the substance after it has been administered now to be six months or more, thus significantly longer than before. This is also true of the substance stanozolol, which has already been discovered in well over 100 urine samples at the Cologne laboratory thanks to the improved detection method. Cologne doping analyst Hans Geyer confirmed: “By my count, we have hundreds of positive cases that we would otherwise never have found.”
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