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COLOGNE, Germany, February 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A few days before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, WDR research has revealed serious doubts about a credible anti-doping campaign in the Olympics' host country. In the ARD Sports Show (ARD, today, February 2, 2014, 18:00) and the WDR broadcast "Sport Inside" (WDR evening, February 3, 2014, 22:55), WDR reporters cover encounters of a Russian scientist with previously unknown doping agents. The internationally renowned staff of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow offered to sell undercover reporters the Full Size MGF; this is being investigated for its biochemical effects in a research facility under contract to the government. The compound is twice as strong as conventional MGF, and cannot be detected by drug laboratories, said the scientists of the drug.
Initial biochemical studies in Germany have confirmed the authenticity and purity of the drug. The drug is Full Size MGF, which has only been tested in phase I animal trials. The Cologne, Germany doping expert Mario Thevis from the WADA-accredited test laboratory at the German Sports University assumes that the substance is likely to be in strong demand in the doping scene: "It is similar to the IGF 1 growth factor, and is classified as very highly effective," said Thevis to WDR. It can accelerate intensive muscle building.
Thevis warns against abuse of the drug in sports. "There is no clinical approval for this substance. Only a few tests have been done to date. It's therefore impossible to estimate the health risk to humans."
Full Size MGF cannot be detected in current analytical procedures, according to the WDR. Thus, finding it in Sochi drug laboratories is impossible at the start of the Olympic Games this week. This has also been acknowledged by the director of screening laboratories in Sochi, Grigory Rodchenkov, to WDR.
The General Director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, David Howman, was horrified by the WDR investigation, and does not believe that the games in Russia will be drug-free. "It would be naive to believe that all athletes in Sochi are clean. There are many who are convinced that the substance they're taking cannot be detected." Howman holds that the approach by the Russian Academy of Sciences researcher is criminal: "It is shocking that a scientist would offer substances that have never been tested in people. The athletes are the experimental animals," he said to the WDR.
The IOC plans to take 2,453 doping samples in Sochi, more than ever before at the Winter Olympics. IOC President Thomas Bach called it the "toughest anti-doping campaign ever in the Olympics". Two Russian biathletes, including Irina Starych, who placed sixth overall in the World Cup standings, were found to have positive A samples at the beginning of the week.
Editor: Jochen Leufgens, Author: Hajo Seppelt
Annika Hoffmann, WDR Press and Information