Thorpe Rips FINA on EPO Lapse

By Craig Lord
FUKUOKA, Japan, July 25. IAN Thorpe blasted FINA, the international governing body for swimming, last night for failing to test for erythropoietin (EPO), the blood-boosting drug at the World Whampionships in Fukuoka.

The IAAF, the international governing body for track and field, will conduct the EPO tests, which combine the results of blood and urine samples of produce a result, in Edmonton at their World Championships next week.

Thorpe, 18, said: "A lot of things FINA does disappoint me and one of those is the lack of tests they carry out." That criticism was aimed indirectly at the medical commission of FINA, among whose members is the father of Pieter van den Hoogenband, the Dutchman Thorpe faced today in their 200 meter freestyle showdown, won by Thorpe in WR time.

"From an outsider's point of view it doesn't look good, there's no deterrent," said Thorpe. Asked whether swimming was a drugs-free sport, he replied: "It's not at the moment and I don't know if it ever will be for the whole of my career. With FINA's lack of tests, you're not going to be able
to get everyone on the same level."

FINA, which has invested heavily in drug testing since the scandals of the 1990s involving mainly Chinese swimmers, had taken advice from a panel of scientific advisers who argued that the test for EPO, first conducted at the Olympic Games last year in Sydney. The scientists, led by Dr Andrew Pipe, of Canada, say that the test is more applicable to out-of-competition
testing because it requires blood samples to be analyzed within two hours of being supplied by the swimmer or athlete.

Several tests taken in Sydney had produced dubious results from blood samples but those results were not replicated in urine analysis. That suggested that a positive test result might be hard to enforce in law
should a legal challenge be mounted.

Dr Pipe indicated that an EPO test that relied solely on urine was almost ready. The International Olympic Committee has announced that the urine-only test will be "available in late July".

Meanwhile, Massimiliano Rosolino, the Italian who won the Olympic 200m medley title after a huge transformation in form last year, said: "If they
want to do something (the EPO tests) then I'm here. They shouldn't just do it at the championships though -if they had (taken) anything they wouldn't have done it here," he added in reference to anyone who might have cheated.

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