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Powell complains about drug tests; IAAF puzzled

Aug. 12, 2008, 11:17 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Asafa Powell is one of about 10 track and field athletes participating in a previously unreported voluntary anti-doping program - which is why the former 100 meters world record-holder's complaints Tuesday about too many drug tests surprised the sport's world governing body.

The Associated Press learned about the pilot project, in which athletes agree to undergo unlimited testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations, after Powell said he felt targeted since arriving in China on Aug. 1.

"About two days ago, I got pretty upset, because since I've been here, they've tested me four times, and they took blood - a lot of blood," Powell said at an invitation-only news conference to promote his shoe sponsor.

Then, tongue apparently planted firmly in cheek, Powell added: "They are taking so much blood, I am going to be very weak before the final of the 100 meters."

Told of those comments, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said in a telephone interview that Powell agreed to take part in the organization's program that began this year.

"He knows about it, so it's a bit strange he would complain," Davies said. "He's possibly exaggerating about the four tests. But certainly he is part of the program. He knows he will be tested more often."

Powell's agent, Paul Doyle, said he was unaware of Powell's participation in the IAAF program.

Davies said it's possible Powell has been tested in China by the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the IAAF.

"The point is, it's a good thing if he's been tested a lot," Davies said. "He's a favorite for the 100 meters, so why not?"

Powell joins current world record-holder Usain Bolt and U.S. record-holder Tyson Gay in a highly anticipated 100 in Beijing. Powell expects to be tested again before the event's preliminary heats Friday, the first day of track competition at these Olympics. The 100 final is Saturday.

Gay, who arrived in China at the end of last week, said Monday he had been "blood-tested once and urine-tested once since I've been here."

Gay, swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Allyson Felix are among a dozen American athletes whose body chemistry is profiled using a series of blood and urine tests under a voluntary U.S. Anti-Doping Agency program that Davies characterized as similar to that run by the IAAF.

Davies said the IAAF program, like USADA's, uses so-called longitudinal tests in hopes of curtailing performance-enhancing drugs in the long term. Instead of testing against fixed, arbitrary numbers, the tests establish each athlete's body chemistry, then compare new tests to that baseline.

"It's what I'm doing to show my love for my sport," Gay said. "It comes with the territory. Past champions have tested positive. But an Olympic champion needs to carry himself clean, to be clean and to be able to prove he's clean."

The IOC has made a point of going after dopers at the Beijing Games, increasing its number of tests to about 4,500 - up from 3,600 for the Athens Games four years ago. It also is doing "target testing" of suspected dopers.

More than 50 athletes already are missing from the games because of doping accusations.

"They are saying that they are doing, like, over 4,000 tests, but it's just very difficult," Powell said. Then he continued: "But hopefully they can ... make these Olympic Games very clean."


AP Sports Writer Pat Graham and AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report.