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Drug testing at Sochi will be toughest in Winter Games history

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Warnings in place in Sochi.

 

For all the talk of security and political protests, there's another threat to the integrity of the Winter Olympics that's drawn relatively little notice so far: drug testing. But as the AP reports, officials with both Sochi and the International Olympic Committee are gearing up for the most comprehensive drug-testing program in Winter Olympics history.

Some statistics:

• The IOC will conduct 2,453 drug tests in Sochi. Of that total, 1,269 will take place prior to competition, a 57 percent increase from 2010.

• The vast majority of the 1,184 in-competition tests will be in endurance events such as cross-country skiing and biathlon, where there's a history of blood doping and other performance-enhancement measures.

• The top five finishers in all events are tested, as well as a random assortment of other competitors. About 2,000 of the total 3,000 athletes will be tested, many on multiple occasions.

• Blood and urine samples will be stored for eight years in IOC labs in Lausanne, Switzerland in order to account for future, more accurate testing methods.

The Winter Olympics tend to have fewer positive tests because there are fewer athletes competing. Since testing began at the Winter Olympics in 1968, only 20 athletes have tested positive. This year, however, the tests will be able to extend back several months because of several different examination methods.

Russia's own drug testing lab has had to step up its performance after being threatened with suspension by the IOC. The lab is now fully in compliance with international testing procedures.

"I think it would be stupid to try to cheat," IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told the AP. "If there are any doping cases in Sochi, some of them may be because athletes are being stupid."

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter.

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