For the first time in Olympic history, advanced imaging
technology will be used to help detect athletes' use of
performance-enhancing drugs. GE Healthcare Life Sciences'
biomolecular imager will lend a big hand in helping to test
athletes for recombinant erythropoietin (EPO), a
performance-enhancing drug used to boost the number of red blood
cells, which enables improved oxygen flow and allows athletes to
raise their workout intensity and endurance. The GE provided
equipment, the ImageQuant LAS4000, uses technology that offers
extremely detailed information to accurately identify EPO doping.
We first saw the popularity of this drug grow among Tour de France
Many other tests will be performed, in addition to the EPO test,
in an attempt to create the most advanced drug testing laboratory
in the history of the Olympics. GlaxoSmithKline will be the
official lab services provider for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics
Games. Test results will be analyzed at King's College London,
within an independently operated World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
accredited laboratory. The average number of samples analyzed
throughout the year at King's College is approximately 7,000,
but during the Olympic Games, it is expected that 5,000 samples
will be analyzed in only 17 days.
The history of drug testing in the Olympics dates back to the
1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Many notable athletes have had
world records and Olympic medals rescinded due to testing
positively for performance-enhancing drugs in post-race drug
testing, others have had to resign from their Olympic team just
weeks before competing on the world stage due to failed drug tests,
and still others have received lifetime bans from the games. With
the rapid advancement of technology within medical imaging and
testing, we are likely to see a closer eye on the issue of doping
in the Olympics. While we can begin to feel reassurance from
advanced testing such as that provided by GE's ImageQuant, some
of us may be watching this year's Olympic Games with a
skeptical eye about what has gone on before...
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