The London Independent has revealed that nine athletes have been banned for failing drug tests some 24 hours before the start of the Olympic Games.
The suspensions mark a major crackdown on drug cheats by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Six of the athletes were caught in “biological passport” tests, which measure changes in an athlete’s blood profile. Another three were caught following re-tests of samples from last summer’s world championships.
The nine who have been apprehended are all track-and-field athletes and include three Russians, two Ukrainians, one Bulgarian, one Greek and one Turkish national.
Inna Eftimova, of Bulgaria, tested positive for synthetic growth hormone, while the samples of the Ukrainians Nataliya Tobias and Antonina Yefremova both contained traces of synthetic testosterone. All three have been banned for two years.
The Moroccan runner Abderrahim Goumri, who finished third in the London marathon and second in the New York marathon in 2008, was among the six athletes who had irregularities in their “biological passports”.
The others were: Russians Svetlana Klyuka, who finished fourth in the 800m at the Beijing Olympics; the 2011 European indoor 800m champion Yevgenia Zinurova; and Nailya Yulamanova; long-distance runners Irini Kokkinariou of Greece; and Turkey’s Meryem Erdogan.
The nine suspensions came after it was revealed that the Moroccan 1,500m runner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli had also tested positive for a banned diuretic. The 28-year-old had been the hot favourite to win 1,500m gold in London when she ran three minutes 56.15 seconds to win the Paris Diamond League at the Stade de France earlier this month. Having previously been suspended for doping offences, she now faces a lifetime ban from competitive athletics.