More than 30 athletes banned from Vancouver Games: WADA

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By Karolos Grohmann

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - More than 30 athletes who have violated anti-doping rules will not be at the Vancouver Olympics, proving the fight against doping is ensuring cleaner Games, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Thursday.

The athletes who have been banned were caught in the months leading up to the February 12-28 Olympics and the results are unrelated to testing done in the days before the start of the Games, WADA chief John Fahey said.

"More than 30 athletes have been prevented from competing in the Vancouver Olympics for violating anti-doping rules," Fahey told reporters, without providing more details.

"What this tells me is the approach around the world is to ensure they (teams) are not embarrassed by cheats representing their nations at the Olympics."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and WADA have upped their pre-competition testing before Games in a bid to root out cheats and ensure a level playing field for athletes.

More than 70 athletes were prevented from competing in the Beijing 2008 Olympics as doping testers increased checks in the months running up to those Games.

Fahey said the 30 cases, which he refused to name, were all registered in the past months.

"I would say several months in obviously more than one sport and more than one country," he said.

"What has occurred is that we are getting better. We are getting better as time goes by and we are going to continue improving," he said.

Many of them are known, however, with domestic anti-doping agencies naming them in the past months.


Russia had a spate of positive tests before the Vancouver Games, with top cross-country skier Alena Sidko the most recent offender.

Drugs cheats would also have a hard time getting away with it in Vancouver with the most comprehensive drug-testing program ever, Fahey said.

"Athletes who cheat are more likely to get caught here than in any other Games in history," he said.

The IOC will be conducting more than 2,100 drugs tests, about 500 of which are blood tests.

It will also freeze samples for years, retesting them for yet unknown substances once tests have been devised.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)