The 2012 Olympics will boast tough standards against cheaters, according to a doping expert, who said new tests will make the London Olympics the riskiest Games ever for dishonest performance-enhancer users.
Professor David Cowan, head of the doping lab for the Olympics at King's College in London, said new tests to catch blood doping and human growth hormones would be implemented for next year's Olympics.
It's going to be the riskiest Games for cheats, Cowan said at the British Science Festival on Monday. He said huge advancements have been made which could lead to an Olympic-wide crackdown on performance-enhancers.
Cowan said the new advancements have led scientists to detect blood doping, an illegal performance enhancing technique involving blood transfusions.
Blood doping entails undergoing transfusions of stored blood, which has been the only means of doping impossible to detect through conventional examinations thus far. The process, called an autologous blood transfusion, increases levels of red blood cells, which carry oxygen, to boost stamina and energy.
Cowen said new tests targeting the genetic components of the red blood cells will additionally be able to detect homologous blood doping, or taking blood from another person with a similar blood type.
Blood doping began in the 1970's and was popularized by the U.S. cycling team in the 1984 Olympics before it was outlawed two years later. Most recently, Tyler Hamilton confessed to doping in May, handing over his Olympic gold medal won in 2004.
In addition to the thousands of tests Cowen will administer, he said some athletes -- those who are likely to cheat in the 2012 Olympics -- may even be targeted by anti-dopers.
We've got a pretty good coverage of all the things that are prohibited, Cowan said. We want to get the message out there that science is detecting cheats.