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31 Athletes Ensnared in Olympic Doping Crackdown
- May 14, 2018 -

The International Olympic Committee is retesting athletes' samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.WALDIE/GETTY IMAGES

THE INTERNATIONAL Olympic Committee opened proceedings Tuesday against 31 unidentified athletes from 12 countries who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and now face suspensions from this year's games in Brazil.

The athletes were flagged in the course of retesting drug samples from the 2008 games, and reports suggest that athletes from the 2012 London Olympics who are also having their samples retested could see similar actions.

"This is a powerful strike against the cheats," IOC President Thomas Bach said. "They show once again that dopers have no place to hide."

The New York Times reported last week on a tampering program orchestrated by the Russian government during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The IOC said it was being responsive to those allegations and planned to retest samples collected from the Sochi games.

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The newly positive samples from Beijing emerged from the recent retesting of 454 samples from athletes using "the very latest scientific analysis methods," the IOC said. The IOC stores samples for 10 years to retroactively catch perpetrators, prevent them from competing in future games, and discourage the use of banned substances generally. The names of those inviolved have not been released for legal purposes.

Meanwhile, the Russian government has vociferously denied the allegations against it.

"These allegations look absolutely groundless. They are not substantiated by any trustworthy data, they are not backed by any sort of documents. All this simply looks like slander by a turncoat," a Kremlin spokesman said on the matter.

As recently as March, Russian President Vladmir Putin was himself calling for toughing doping enforcement in Russia.

"It's obvious that our national anti-doping legislation needs serious improvement," Putin said then. "I am asking the government to work on the question of raising the effectiveness of the national fight against doping.