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SEA Games: Singapore gets tough on doping

Singapore will be the first SEA Games host in the history of the regional meet to conduct blood tests on athletes, as part of the country's larger aim to have a dope-free Games.

SINGAPORE: Singapore will be the first SEA Games host in the history of the regional meet to conduct blood tests on athletes.

This is part of the country's larger aim to have a dope-free Games.

This was revealed on Tuesday at a media briefing following a series of meetings by the SEA Games Federation Committee in Singapore.

Blood testing is a relatively new doping control measure. It looks for the presence of growth hormones and Erythropoietin or what's commonly known as EPO.

The substance typically boosts an athlete's endurance by improving oxygen flow to the muscles.

About 10 millilitres of blood is collected from the athlete and sealed in two special sample bottles.

The samples must be kept in temperatures of between four and eight degrees Celsius. It must also reach a laboratory for testing within 24 hours.

The blood tests will be conducted randomly.

"We're trying to make it as reasonable as possible to do the minimum that is required," said Dr Teh Kong Chuan, chairman of the 2015 SEA Games Federation Medical Committee.

The move follows the discovery of new doping cases at the recent Myanmar SEA Games.

Two cases involved Myanmar athletes while a Bruneian runner was also tested positive.

Indonesian swimmer Indra Gunawan also had a positive reading last year and was slapped with a three-month ban. He was allowed to compete at the SEA Games in Myanmar as the ban expired before the tournament started.

Dr Teh said: "We want to ensure that the Games is held dope-free so we have to put in place all the procedures and processes to ensure this is done. We hope that we don't get any positives, but from past SEA Games, we know there will be some positives."

"There were three definite positives from the last SEA Games, and the previous SEA Games it was nearly the same," he added.

Organisers have also issued a final list of 36 sports, with 402 gold medals on offer.

Six new sports - petanque, rowing, volleyball, equestrian, floorball and boxing - have been added.

This came after intense lobbying by regional National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and local National Sports Associations (NSAs).

Nine other sports that had been requested were left out due to a variety of reasons, including budgetary constraints.

The last time Singapore hosted the SEA Games, there were 29 sports on offer.

Dr Tan Eng Liang, who is vice-president of Singapore National Olympic Council, said: "In 1993, when we hosted the last SEA Games, we got 50 gold medals. Now with 36 sports, I will be totally disappointed if we get less than 50!"

Dr Tan added that he expects Singapore to also do well in the six additional sports, citing the Republic's gold medals from rowing and equestrian at the Myanmar Games.

It's full steam ahead for the 2015 Singapore SEA Games. All of the Games venues have been confirmed and all that remains is the matching of events to the venues.

Meanwhile, all 15,000 volunteers needed for the Games have also been secured. They will now undergo training to ensure that they are ready in 13 months' time.

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