Dutch minister says doping tests are going too far

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Deputy Minister for Health, Welfare and Sport says excessive testing for doping is violating athletes’ right to privacy.

28 July 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Deputy Minister for Health, Welfare and Sport, Jet Bussemaker, says excessive testing for doping is violating athletes' right to privacy.

Speaking on Dutch radio, she said the rules should be relaxed so that athletes do not have to report where they are at all times.

"Although I think doping tests should continue, you must balance them against the rights and freedoms of the athletes, in the knowledge that you can never eliminate doping altogether."

Somebody who is clearly happy with the current level of testing is Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme. Compared with recent scandals, this year's tour was relatively clean. Only four cyclists were caught by doping tests and only one was a high profile rider, Italian Riccardo Ricco.

"When you find three or four cheats out of a total of 180, you have to be satisfied," Prudhomme said. "I'm happy the whole anti-doping effort has made such progress. This race has shown that the differential between those who cheat and those who don't has reduced dramatically".

Now that the Tour de France is over, the next major arena for doping is the Beijing Olympics.

A poll carried out by an Australian newspaper showed that three-quarters of the athletes in Australia's largest-ever Olympic team believe the games will be tainted by drug scandals. They're not alone.

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, told Belgian newspaper De Standaard that he expects as many as 40 athletes to test positive for banned substances at the Beijing Games, up from 26 in Athens in 2004 and 12 in Sydney in 2000.

"Based on the number of doping tests in Beijing, you can expect 30 to 40 positive cases."

Officials plan to carry out 4,500 drug tests during the course of the Olympics.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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