Dramatic fall in drug positives

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 December, 2006, 12:00am

The Olympic Council of Asia yesterday declared that the 15th Games were the cleanest ever. Only four athletes, all weightlifters, of the more than 10,000 athletes taking part, have tested positive for drugs. This is a more than 50 per cent drop in the number of drug cheats from the last Asian Games.

Despite a second weightlifter from Myanmar being stripped of her medal yesterday and being expelled after testing positive for drugs, OCA officials were happy that the overall numbers of positive cases had fallen from four years ago.

'We have had four positive cases for drugs tests so far at these games. Four years ago in Pusan, the total was 10. This is not a bad percentage,' said OCA director general Husain Al-Musallem.

Myanmar's female weightlifter, Oo Mya Sanda, 29, who won the silver medal in the 75kg category, was sent home in disgrace after testing positive for an anabolic agent which helps to build muscle mass and lessens the recovery phase.

She is the second Myanmar weightlifter to be disqualified. Last Saturday, Kyi Kyi Than, who failed to win a medal in the women's 48kg category, was disqualified for failing a drugs test.

The other two positive cases have also been in weightlifting. Uzbekistan's Elmira Ramileva and Alexander Urinov, in the women's 69kg and men's 105kg categories respectively, were thrown out on Sunday for doping offences.

Al-Musallem said an education programme for all 45 National Olympic Committees was working.

'We have conducted more than 800 urine tests and the percentage of positives is not high compared to other big events,' he said.

A total of 1,200 urine tests will be carried out before the games end. For the first time at an Asian Games, blood tests are being conducted - a total of 50. In another first, pre-event tests have also been done.