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Wednesday, May 31, 2000
Shorter encouraged by new drug tests

 BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Olympic champion Frank Shorter is confident that athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs will be foiled at the Sydney Games.

Shorter, the 1972 marathon gold medalist, is encouraged by news that French researchers have developed a urine test to detect the hormone erythropoietin.

Australian scientists are also working to validate a blood test that detects EPO use after the athlete stops taking the drug. Both tests may be ready for the Sydney Games, which start Sept. 15.

The international cycling federation said last week it was ready to use the French test at the Tour de France if it survived a speeded-up evaluation process.

Shorter has said he has proof the East German who beat him for the gold medal in the 1976 Olympic marathon used steroids. The Boulder runner finished 50 seconds behind Waldemar Cierpinski in that race to win the silver medal.

Shorter was recently appointed to head the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. He attended an Olympic drug summit 16 months ago in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The new drug tests will pressure the International Olympic Committee to crack down on cheating, Shorter said. Critics have accused the IOC of stalling on drug testing.

"If research on the urine test of EPO gets published between now and the games, what they will then try to do is say they can't be ready in time, but obviously they can," Shorter said.

EPO is a natural hormone that regulates the amount of red cells in the blood. The use of synthetic EPO allows athletes to boost their number of red blood cells, which increases the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity.

EPO is believed to be widely used by athletes in cycling, long-distance running and other endurance sports.

Olympic officials say even if an EPO test is used in Sydney, other banned drugs, including human growth hormone, will remain undetectable.
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