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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
More heat on drug cheats
Athletes face more tests to weed out the cheats
Athletes face more tests to weed out the cheats
Athletes will be tested for one of the most dangerous drugs in sport for the first time at next month's World Championships in Edmonton.

The sport's governing body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation confirmed that of more than 350 drug tests that will be carried out at the championships 15-20% will be for EPO (erythropoietin).

But swimming's world governing body Fina has come under fire for not using the test at its world championships in Japan.

EPO artificially boosts the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and is regarded as one of the most dangerous drugs used by cheats because it can thicken the blood.


I was tested in Sydney and I think it's a shame it's not here
  Sandra Voelker

A combined blood and urine test for EPO was approved and used at last year's Sydney Olympics in a bid to catch cheats.

Swimming trialled the tests at a world cup meeting in Australia last year but has decided not to use blood tests in Fukuoka, to the annoyance of some competitors.

German backstroke swimmer Sandra Voelker said "I was tested in Sydney and I think it's a shame it's not here, I'm in favour of tests."

Fina has concerns over the reliability of blood testing
Fina has concerns over the reliability of blood testing

Fina's decision comes at a time when the sport is trying to clean up its image.

But executive director Cornel Marculescu said Fina had decided not to use blood tests because there were still some scientific concerns about the reliability.

"Our research tells us that the best test at the moment is a urine test," Marculescu said.

"We agree with (blood tests) but we have a scientific body that comes to us and recommends we use urine tests and at the moment there is no urine test for EPO."

Positive test

Fina expect to carry out 300 random tests during the championships, with all champions and world record setters automatically tested.

Of the 180 tests already conducted, all returned negative results.

Meanwhile, German Olympic high jump finalist Amewu Mensah has tested positive for the anabolic steroid oxandrolone.

Mensah, 24, is part of a nationwide anti-doping campaign and features prominently on posters.

According to Tanja Haug, a spokesman for the German track and field federation, Mensah tested positive following a meeting in the south-western town of Rehlingen on 4 June.

Mensah faces a two-year ban for using the drug, which is commonly prescribed to promote growth in boys who do not reach puberty.

She has said she will contest the results.

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