An Albanian weightlifter became the first athlete to be ejected from the London 2012 Olympics after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.
Hysen Pulaku, 19, who was due to compete in the men's 77kg class, joins a string of athletes who were banned for doping violations before the start of the Olympics. He now faces a possible two-year sanction by the International Weightlifting Federation.
Pulaku tested positive on 23 July for Stanozolol – an old, relatively cheap and easy-to-detect drug which, like other anabolic steroids, is designed to mimic the effects of the male sex hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
Higher levels of testosterone cause anabolic changes in the body, including an increased rate of protein synthesis. This in turn can boost muscle growth and an ability to recover more quickly between bouts of strenuous exercise.
The drug was detected in Pulaku's urine sample. His personal coach and uncle, Sami Pulaku, said neither he or Pulaku denied the presence of the steroid and that the decision would not be contested.
"Of course it is always a sad day when a cheating athlete is caught," said Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee. "I hope there will not be more."
It was the same steroid that led to Greece's world indoor high jump champion Dimitris Chondrokoukis's withdrawal from the Games on Thursday after a positive test for the drug which the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson used before the 1988 Seoul Games.
Pulaku is the latest in a long line of weightlifters to have tested positive for drugs in Olympic Games with the sport having been tarnished by its doping history.
The IOC had urged federations and national anti-doping agencies to up pre-Games testing. "We do target the key sports and the key athletes and I am entirely comfortable that we have done that," said Adams.
Since the start of the Olympic period the IOC has conducted 1001 drugs tests, of which 715 are urine and 286 blood tests.
The Hungarian discus thrower Zoltan Kovago, a silver medallist at the 2004 Athens Games, will also miss the Olympics after the court of arbitration for sport said on Thursday he had failed to provide a sample when requested.
The Moroccan 1,500m runner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli will miss the Games after a positive test for a banned diuretic. Nine track and field athletes were also banned for doping violations on Wednesday.
http://guardian.co.uk, Saturday 28 July 2012 13.50 BST
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