London 2012 cleaners told to help shop drug cheats

Games support staff to be mined for intelligence in unprecedented Olympics anti-doping crackdown

CLEANERS and security staff will be asked to keep tabs on athletes at London 2012 in what organisers are confident will be the biggest crackdown on drug cheats in Olympic history.

Games chiefs plan to carry out a record 5,000 tests at next summer’s event, plus a further 1,250 at the Paralympics, Jonathan Harris, London 2012’s head of anti-doping said yesterday.

With around 10,500 athletes descending on the capital, that equates to an approximate one-in-two chance of being tested, however some competitors will be targeted for multiple tests if there is intelligence to suspect them.

That intelligence may come from other countries’ federations or law enforcement agencies – but London 2012 staff will also be asked to do their bit in the fight against drugs in sport.

“Intelligence sources could be anything from security to cleaning,” Harris said. “We will be educating people in those function areas so that if they should come across behaviours that are untoward they will share that information with us.

“In addition, we will work with international federations and Olympic committees, who can provide information on their athletes. In this country we will work with the relevant authorities – so the police, and the UK Border Agency.”

Athletes who come under suspicion will be targeted for multiple tests, which will be analysed at a brand new dedicated King’s College laboratory. Andy Parkinson, chief executive of UK Anti-Doping, which carries out the testing of British athletes and will be part of a London 2012 task force, said: “There will be targeted testing at the Games based upon the intelligence we receive.”

Parkinson was speaking at the Laureus Science and Ethics in Sport Symposium in London, on the day the Olympic Stadium’s running track was unveiled. He added: “More testing doesn’t equal better testing. What we are seeing now compared to four years ago is a different way of testing. We’ve got athletes’ biological passports, much more blood testing, analytical science improving all the time and we’re being more intelligent in how we carry out our tests. Last year 40 per cent of our tests were targeted on individual athletes.”

Harris promised there would be more use of blood testing, which is better at detecting certain banned substances such as human growth hormone, at London 2012 than at any previous Games, it said it had not been decided what proportion of tests would be blood-derived.

Athletics in particular has suffered from a fall in interest during the last 20 years due in part to doping scandals, such as that involving British sprinter Dwain Chambers, who admitted taking the steroid THG.