Detecting EPO in Beijing: a high-precision "dream team"

(dpa) - The system to detect erythropoietin (EPO) is probably one of the most sophisticated and delicate operations at the Beijing Olympics, a major challenge in the hands of a "dream team" of scientists.

Precision is crucial, because athletes' honour is at stake, and this leads the scientists involved to take their time. It can even lead the samples to be sent on to Paris, as was the case with Spanish cyclist Maribel Moreno, singled out Monday as the first positive doping test at the Games.

"The testing process for EPO takes a while, it is not immediate," an international expert working at the heart of testing for doping doping in Beijing told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The laboratory, flagship of China's new anti-doping agency Chinada, is a multinational effort, where experts like the Canadian Christiane Ayotte - director of the prestigious Montreal laboratory - or Don Catlin of the US - responsible for the facility in Los Angeles and the man who discovered the method to detect the designer drug THG used by Marion Jones - run into each other every day.

Anti-doping laboratories are a legacy that the Olympic Games leave for host countries. Thanks to Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984, those two cities are world references in testing, and so is the Barcelona lab under Jordi Segura, a Spaniard who is also part of the Beijing "dream team."

Moreno underwent a urine test on July 31, shortly after she arrived in Beijing. The first analysis of the sample was positive, enough to allow the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to prevent her from competing.

However, in order to get the result of the test that arrived late Sunday from the Chatenay-Malabry laboratory in Paris, "up to 72 hours" may be required.

"The sample, in this case, was very diluted. We had to be particularly careful," the source told dpa.

Unlike anabolic steroids and stimulants, on which doping tests draw clear conclusions in the shape of concrete figures, EPO is a foggy area: graphic results are subject to interpretation, they are not objective. This means that, before there is a positive result, at least three laboratory heads have to be involved and deliver their expert knowledge on the matter.

The Brazilian Eduardo De Rose, president of the medical commission at the Pan-American Sports Organization (PASO) and an expert on EPO, told dpa that "it is not true that the second or third generations of the substance" are harder to detect.

"What the different generations of EPO allow is a greater ease for kidney patients," De Rose explained. "The oldest (form of EPO) required daily applications, for NESP (Novel Erythropoiesis Stimulating Protein) they are weekly, and for the new one they are practically monthly."

This improves life for kidney sufferers, but it also facilitates consumption on the part of sportsmen seeking to improve their performance.

The traditional "recombinant EPO" which became known around the world in the late 1990s jumped to NESP or darbepoetin, which German- born Spanish skier Johann Muehlegg made known when he tested positive in Salt Lake City 2002.

And now there is the Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (CERA), the third generation, which had its world premiere last month at the Tour de France, with the case involving Italian Riccardo Ricco.

De Rose leads a group of 15 experts that visit the different sites of competition at the Beijing Olympics everyday. From a hotel in central Beijing, the Brazilian coordinates things for tests to be done in a timely fashion, for nothing to go wrong and for the 4,500 tests expected to be done at the 2008 Olympics to be carried out with ease.

In the meantime, the anti-doping lab in Beijing receives all the samples, which can be tested at any time since there are three shifts covering 24 hours a day.

And there will be a lot of work, because IOC president Jacques Rogge has already anticipated that he expects "between 30 and 40" positive tests in the Games.

This means that Moreno's is just the beginning. The game of doping is only getting started.

Generation of Iran's Bandar Abbas TPP disclosed
Generation of Iran's Bandar Abbas TPP disclosed
Value of Iran's exports via Mehran customs announced
Value of Iran's exports via Mehran customs announced
Iran declares volume of sugar beet to be produced
Iran declares volume of sugar beet to be produced
Loading Bars
Latest
Gold, silver prices decline in Azerbaijan
Protest condemning Armenia's provocations against Azerbaijan held in Istanbul
Assistant to Azerbaijani president: Some int'l organizations showing biased position
Generation of Iran's Bandar Abbas TPP disclosed
Assistant to Azerbaijan's President: Police department, town for IDPs in Tartar shelled
US hopes to expand co-op with Turkmenistan through different dialogues
Heydar Aliyev International Airport to temporarily operate in limited mode
Turkey unveils data on cargo shipment via its ports from Saudi Arabia
COVID-19 cases exceed 5000 in Georgia
Jean-Francois Mansel: Clashes between Armenia, Azerbaijan - result of int'l community's passivity
Azerbaijani army continues operations to liberate occupied lands
Value of Iran's exports via Mehran customs announced
Azerbaijan's Agro Service lowers fertilizer prices
Former Czech PM: it is great challenge for int’l community to bring peaceful solution to Karabakh conflict
Cargo handling volumes from Israel through Turkish ports unveiled
Georgia to increase snail exports
Federation Council praises further dev't of Russian-Turkmen inter-parliamentary dialogue
China ready to make efforts to further develop bilateral partnership with Turkmenistan
Russian bank to open representative office in Uzbekistan
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office taking steps that Armenian servicemen punished within int'l law
French president makes phone call to President Ilham Aliyev
Assistant to President of Azerbaijan gives interview to Al Jazeera Media Network in connection with latest provocations of Armenia (VIDEO)
Weekly review of Azerbaijani oil market
Iran declares volume of sugar beet to be produced
National Iranian Copper Industries Company boosts its sales
Volume of cargo transshipment from Japan through Turkish ports revealed
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan is clear violation of int’l law
Former Bosnian foreign minister: Ignoring UN resolutions on Nagorno Karabakh threatening global peace
UN must stop Armenia's military provocations - Lebanese lawyer
Azerbaijani currency rates for Sept. 28
Deputy PM: Heroic Azerbaijani army continues its victorious advance
ARETI inform Turkmenistan about promotion of number of joint projects
Iranian currency rates for September 28
Italian senators condemn Armenia's provocation against Azerbaijan
Russian analyst: Rocket-artillery strike on civilian population of Azerbaijan logically reflects essence of fascist regime in Armenia
High grounds around Azerbaijani Talysh village cleared of Armenian armed forces (VIDEO)
Iran discloses amount of loans issued to tea farmers
Volume of tea leaves purchased in Iran revealed
Donald Trump: US looking closely into conflict escalation in Nagorno Karabakh
Number of coronavirus cases in Uzbekistan pass 55,000
MP: Azerbaijan only wants liberation of its lands
Armenian confirms 15 more deaths among soldiers
Azerbaijani MFA: Armenian armed forces deliberately target civilians, infrastructure
Azerbaijani, Estonian MFAs discuss ongoing provocative steps of Armenia
Iran to produce phosphate fertilizer
Iran to accelerate release of essential goods from customs
Iran's NISOC announces tender to buy spare parts
Monetary and banking policies, the reason behind Iran`s sharp price rises
Turkish Airlines resumes flights to Iran
Shipment costs in Iran increases
Armenian army suffers heavy losses as result of hostilities
Time for dialogue ran out, Armenia deserves int’l repudiation, says Peter Tase
NGIC: World needs to be reminded that Armenia utterly failed to comply UN Security Council resolutions
Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Iran hold phone conversation
Armenian military forces shelling Azerbaijani Terter city
Two more tanks belonging to Armenian armed forces destroyed
Armenia's deliberate targeting of civilians is gross violation of int’l humanitarian law: Turkish expert
TAP increases Swiss investment in Albania by 16 times
Landslides kill 10 in Indonesia's North Kalimantan
Azerbaijani army forces continue to destroy Armenian military equipment
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers holds phone talk with US Deputy Secretary of State
Oil edges lower as rising virus cases cloud demand recovery outlook
U.S. judge blocks Trump administration TikTok app store ban
US warns Iraq about possible shutdown of embassy in Baghdad
13 Boko Haram militants surrender to Nigerian troops
Wildfires in California grow to 3.6 mln acres
Israel reports 3,926 new COVID-19 cases, 231,026 in total
Several more military equipment units of Armenia destroyed
US urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to cease hostilities immediately
Massacre in Mexican bar leaves 11 people dead
5.3-magnitude quake hits 6 km ENE of Masagua, Guatemala
Armenia confirms lose of several occupied regions of Azerbaijan
Iran assigns more credit to develop Kermanshah Province
Power plants put into operation in Iran's Khuzestan Province
Energy Community: Georgia has big potential to become regional gas trading center
President Ilham Aliyev: We are on right path, we are defending ourselves, we do not lay claim to anyone else's lands
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office: Measures being taken to bring Armenian servicemen to justice
President Ilham Aliyev: I warned Armenia
President Ilham Aliyev: I congratulate all people of Azerbaijan!
President Ilham Aliyev: Army building always top priority of my activity
Azerbaijani president: As result of our focused, tireless efforts, world has broad picture of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict today
Azerbaijani president: Several occupied Azerbaijani settlements have been liberated
Azerbaijani president: There is high morale in all our military units, formations
President Ilham Aliyev: Everyone in their place, are ready to support our army and state at any time
Azerbaijani president: Armenia once again shows that its policy of aggression against Azerbaijan continues, this policy shows fascist essence of Armenia to whole world
Azerbaijani State Service for Mobilization: Martial law does not mean immediate mobilization
Qatar reports 234 new COVID-19 cases, 125,084 in total
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry: Ammunition depot of Armenian armed forces destroyed (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan to appeal to int'l organizations to hold tribunal over Armenia
Defense ministry: Azerbaijani armed forces destroy lot of manpower and military equipment
President Ilham Aliyev signs Decree declaring martial law
Turkish Foreign Minister: Armenia once again gets response on battlefield
EU official Joseph Borel expresses serious concern over situation in region during phone call with Azerbaijani MFA
Assistant to president: Azerbaijani army achieves major strategic advantage by liberation of Murovdag
Hikmat Hajiyev: Azerbaijani armed forces continue to liberate occupied territories
Polish MFA expresses deep concern with reported military clashes around Nagorno-Karabakh
MFA: Iran ready to employ all of its capacities to help establish a ceasefire
Five members of Azerbaijani family killed as result of Armenian shelling
Azerbaijani, Turkish MFAs hold telephone conversation
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry urges international community to condemn Armenian official’s racist and chauvinist statement
All news