The world track and field body said today it will start worldwide random out-of-competition testing for steroids and their masking agents this winter.
With the testing "no single athlete is sacrosanct," said Primo Nebiolo, president of the International Athletic Foundation at the end of its three-day symposium on drugs in track and field. "All must apply to the same principle."
An official of the U.S. Track Federation said such testing of American athletes will begin even sooner, with random tests set to begin July 1.
Harmon Brown of the U.S. Track Federation said the federation plans an out-of-competition program to test the top 15 athletes in each event. He hoped three-fourths of that pool of athletes will face checks in the coming year.
Dr. Arne Ljungqvist, international track's top medical officer, said the International Amateur Athletic Federation's annual congress in September was certain to approve the principle of the plan after the Ben Johnson scandal proved to the world that testing during competitions only is woefully inadequate.
"There is no risk it will not be accepted, and we will do spot-checks all over," starting with the winter season, Ljungqvist said. The concept is raising hopes that it will drastically reduce doping.
Drug experts and track officials ended a three-day symposium today, rallying behind the idea of the testing for the most common drugs used outside competitions after many scientific reports illustrated the destructive physical and mental side effects of doping in sports.
Up to now, athletes have been able to follow doping programs that cleared the drugs from their system by the time competitions started.
The IAAF plans to check the drugs most commonly used in training, centering on anabolic steroids and their masking agents, officials said here.
"It will only confuse the situation if we start with all other drugs at the same time," said Greek Prof. John Kiburis.