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IOC Official Says Bromantan Produced by Russian Army

August 1, 1996 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) _ Athletes of the former Soviet Union for years have used the drug that has produced all five positive tests at the Atlanta Games, but scientists could not detect it until recently, a top Olympic official says.

The Russian Olympic committee has denied that the drug, bromantan, is a stimulant and appealed the disqualification of two of its medalists.

Prince Alexandre de Merode, chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, said Russian officials told him that Soviet athletes already were using bromantan at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

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Traces of the drug were detected in as many as 20 tests in the past two years, all involving athletes from the former Soviet Union, de Merode said.

But scientists only recently could identify the substance and class it as a banned performance-enhancing stimulant, he said. IOC spokeswoman Michele Verdier said today that bromantan was declared an illegal substance on June 5.

``It’s made by the Russian army for army troops,″ de Merode said in an interview. ``I am told it is available on the black market in Russia, including on the streets in Moscow.″

Russian Olympic committee president Vitaly Smirnov confirmed in an interview with the Itar-Tass news agency that bromantan was developed by the Russian military. He said the drug was an immune-strenghtening substance recommended by Russian military doctors who had used it to treat cosmonauts.

Four Russian athletes, a Lithuanian cyclist and two Lithuanian team officials have been kicked out of the Atlanta Games over the use of bromantan.

The latest doping case, announced today, expelled Marina Trandenkova, fifth-place finisher in the women’s 100 meter.

De Merode said bromantan makes athletes more alert, boosts their energy and wards off fatigue.

The Russian delegation argued the drug is not included on the IOC’s list of banned substances. But de Merode said it is covered under the category of ``related substances.″

``We have an open list with some examples,″ he said. ``If we listed all the substances, we would need a dictionary.″

An official with the Russian delegation told the Russian news agency Tass that the delegation two years ago submitted to the IOC the list of drugs it would use in pre-Olympic training and bouts. Bromantan was on that list.

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``We have not received any notices from the medical commission on that account,″ Alexander Kozlovsky, vice president of Russia’s Olympic committee, told Tass.

``Furthermore, we learned that on May 15, 1996, the International Athletics Federation expressed a doubt in the legality of bromantan, but it has never received an answer,″ he said.

Russian swimmer Nina Zhivanevskaya, who finished first in the consolation final in the women’s 200-meter backstroke, was disqualified Tuesday.

Swimmer Andrei Korneyev, in the 200-meter breaststroke, and Greco-Roman wrestler Zafar Gulyov, in the 105 1/2-pound class, were stripped of their bronze medals on Monday. They appealed the cases to the Court for Arbitration in Sport.

Court general secretary Jean-Philipe Rochat said a hearing is set for Friday, and the case may not be decided until after the games end.

Also nabbed for bromantan was Lithuanian cyclist Rita Raznaite, whose 13th-place finish in the sprint was wiped out. Raznaite did not appeal, but her case led to two other drug expulsions Tuesday.

The IOC said it had banned Dr. Vitaly Slionssarenko, the Lithuanian cycling team physician, and revoked the credential of the team’s coach, Boris Vasilyev.

So far, no steroids have been detected at the games, despite the use of new high-resolution mass spectrometers. Officials have said the new equipment should be much more effective than standard testing equipment.

``People were probably afraid of the new machines and were more careful,″ de Merode said.

In a breakthrough, de Merode said, scientists finally have developed a reliable test to detect use of Erythropoietin, a hormone used to boost an athlete’s oxygen capacity. The drug is believed to be widely used in endurance sports, especially cycling.

De Merode said the EPO test will be ready for use by November. While earlier research focused on blood testing, EPO controls will be conducted on standard urine samples.