Up to 31 athletes from 12 countries could be banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics for doping, after previewing new tests results on samples from the 2008 Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday.
The athletes were caught in new tests on 454 Beijing samples using “the very latest scientific analysis methods,” the IOC said.
The re-examination was part of widespread measures taken by sporting bodies after a wave of new doping scandals hit international sport with Russia at the centre.
Results from 250 retests on samples taken at the 2012 London Games are due “shortly” meaning the failures could increase.
The IOC has also ordered that samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics be retested following allegations that the city`s anti-doping laboratory was “subverted” to help Russian athletes.
“All these measures are a powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win,” IOC president Thomas Bach said.
“They show once again that dopers have no place to hide.”
The suspect athletes from the Beijing Games took part in six sports, but none were named by the IOC which issued a statement after an executive board meeting in Lausanne.
The board “agreed unanimously to initiate proceedings immediately,” said the statement and the 12 national Olympic committees involved would be informed within days.
“All those athletes infringing anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the IOC declared.
The results of new examinations on 250 samples taken at the London Games are due “shortly” and mean the total failures could increase.
More than 5,000 tests were carried out in London, according to IOC figures.
About 4,000 tests were carried out in Beijing and just after the games, the IOC re-examined nearly 1,000, with a new test for the blood-boosting drug CERA.
The 1500m men`s champion Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain was among the five athletes caught.
The IOC also warned that it will start “a wider re-testing programme of medallists from Beijing and London. The samples of athletes who could be awarded medals following the disqualification of others will also be retested.”
Reacting in a statement on Twitter, European Athletics chief Svein Arne Hansen said “It is never too late to correct the mistakes of the past and to ensure clean athletes are rightfully rewarded.”