By Bob Ramsak
(c) Track Profile Report; used with permission
News agencies are reporting that the Bahraini Olympic committee has confirmed that Olympic 1500m champion Rashid Ramzi has initially tested positive for CERA, a new version of the endurance-enhancing drug EPO.
On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee reported that seven athletes, had tested positive for CERA when 847 samples collected at the 2008 Olympic Games were retested earlier this year.
It should be noted that this is only an initial finding. For a positive test result to be declared, both the "A" and "B" samples must come back positive (blood and urine samples are divided into two parts after collection, then tested separately). According to the Associated Press, Ramzi’s backup "B" sample will be tested on June 8 in Paris.
“The further analysis of the Beijing samples that we conducted should send a clear message that cheats can never assume that they have avoided detection,” said Arne Ljungqvist, Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, upon release of the retesting numbers on Tuesday. “The vast majority of athletes do not seek an unfair advantage. We intend to do all we can to ensure that they have a fair environment for competition.”
In a statement issued today, the IAAF, track’s international governing body, confirmed that according to the IOC, three track athletes were among the seven who tested positive for CERA.
“Just as the IAAF has already re-analysed its own samples taken prior to Beijing, the IAAF would like to commend the IOC for their efforts in the storage and re-analysis of samples and for their coordination with the IAAF in this process,” the statement read. “This step shows that athletes who cheat can never be comfortable that they will avoid detection and sends a strong message of deterrence.”
If Ramzi is found guilty, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya would likely be elevated to the gold medal position, followed by Nick Willis of New Zealand with Mehdi Baala of France taking the bronze.
The Moroccan-born Ramzi, who has competed internationally for Bahrain since 2002, took a commanding victory in Beijing, clocking 3:32.94. He was a surprise double winner at the 2005 World Championships, winning both the 800 and 1500m. Two years later, he took silver in the 1500m.