London 2012 Olympics: 24-hour Olympics anti-doping lab unveiled

No place to hide for drug cheats as 24-hour Olympics anti-doping lab unveiled

Drug cheats have been warned they will be caught at next summer's Olympics and Paralympics as London 2012 unveiled 'the most high-tech' laboratory in the history of the Games.

Up to 6,250 samples will be tested by 150 scientists working at the 24-hour anti-doping facility in Harlow, Essex.

All Olympic medallists will have to submit a urine sample and there will be around 1,000 blood tests.

Sure: Sports minister Hugh Robertson (right) is sure any drug cheats will be caught

Sure: Sports minister Hugh Robertson (right) is sure any drug cheats will be caught

With 10,500 athletes expected at the
Olympic and Paralympic Games, organisers are confident up to half of
competitors will be tested; some more than once.

Anti-doping authorities will target
certain 'high risk' events, predominantly individual sports, and will
also test athletes who are 'massively successful'.

Organisers have not yet ruled out
raiding athletes' rooms, as Italian police did at the 2006 Winter
Olympics in Turin, leading to six athletes being banned, but UK laws
make this unlikely.

Belief: Robertson thinks the laboratory, open 24 hours, will boost the integrity of the Games

Belief: Robertson thinks the laboratory, open 24 hours, will boost the integrity of the Games

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport
and the Olympics, said: 'This is about integrity and the integrity of
London's Games. Everyone wants to know what they are seeing in front of
them is a true and fair contest.

'Of course we cannot absolutely
guarantee that these will be a drug-free games but we can guarantee we
have got the very best system possible to try and catch anybody who even
thinks about cheating.

'We are doing all we can to ensure
that there is no place to hide for drug cheats at London 2012. Our
message to any athlete thinking about doping is simple – we'll catch
you.'

One thousand volunteers have begun
training to help them handle athletes who try to ignore them or blame a
language barrier when requested to produce a urine sample.

Competitors will decant their own sample into two bottles – an 'A' and a 'B' test – and seal the bottles themselves.

Neil Wilson

The tests will then be securely
couriered to Harlow where they will be screened for 200 compounds, with
individual tests for substances such as erythropoietin (EPO) and human
growth hormone.

Scientists will identify 'suspect'
samples within 24 hours, when athletes can ask to have their 'B' test
analysed. The B samples will then be frozen and kept for eight years.

Professor David Cowan from King's
College London, who will run the anti-doping laboratory, said: 'These
laboratories are the most high-tech labs in the history of the Games,
analysing more samples than ever before.

'When people try to challenge, they
won't be successful. We are going to be fast, sensitive and efficient
and we are going to be right.'

The laboratories have been built and equipped by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has provided 20million towards the Games.

It is the first time a pharmaceutical
company has sponsored an Olympic anti-doping laboratory, but GSK chief
executive officer Sir Andrew Witty insisted there is no conflict of
interest.

The company will also share
information with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on all their
products, including new drugs under development.

Sir Witty said: 'Our involvement is
the support and delivery of the facility. We have no role in the testing
process. 'You can be 1,000 per cent reassured that there's no overlap,
no conflict.'