Dope cheats face testing times in London

 Scientists working around the clock at a specially equipped anti-doping lab on the outskirts of London will analyse more than 6,000 urine and blood samples during the 2012 Olympics.

The process — from obtaining the sample through to delivering what may be career-ending results back to athlete and coach — is highly sensitive and demands high levels of speed, skill and security.

Any of the more than 10,000 athletes can be required to test anytime, anywhere — trackside, poolside, in the athletes village or in private houses and whether they are already in Britain or still at training camps outside of the country.

The testing experience — which has the potential to bring shame and humiliation down on anyone caught cheating — starts when an Olympic anti-doping official approaches an athlete and tells them they've been selected.

At London 2012, samples are identified only by a barcode from the point at which they are secured in bottles. This means neither the couriers carrying the samples to and from the lab, nor any of the scientists carrying out the tests, are able to know which athlete is being tested.

The samples are sent on an hourly basis and arrive at the anti-doping lab in Harlow, east of London, in a blue silver-lined box and have the barcode scanned in before testing begins.  The first task is for one of the 150 international scientists working to open and analyse sample A, and freeze and securely store sample B. The testing uses liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry equipment that can screen for more than 240 banned substances in less than 24 hours.

David Cowan, head of the Drug Control Centre at King's College London and the man overseeing London 2012's anti-doping regime, has said his team can screen up to 400 samples a day and expects to analyse around 6,250 in total during the Games.

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