The International Olympic Committee announced on May 17 that 31 athletes tested positive in retests of their doping samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The unidentified competitors ranged from six different sports and 12 countries.
The IOC said it retested 454 selected doping samples from the Beijing Games.
“All these measures are a powerful strike against the cheats we do not allow to win. They show once again that dopers have no place to hide,” said the IOC in a statement.
The samples, which were stored at the IOC lab in Lausanne, were being retested using enhanced methods on competitors who were expecting to participate at the Rio Olympics this summer. More retests are underway.
The committee says it has launched disciplinary proceedings against the athletes, but no athletes names have been released, nor the countries involved.
The IOC said “all those athletes infringing anti-doping rules will be banned from competing” in the upcoming Rio games.
Wider Olympic Doping Problem
The retests bring even more attention to the doping problem in the Olympics.
The latest positive samples come less than a week after the director of Russia’s anti-doping lab said dozens of Russian athletes used a cocktail of drugs to win medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, reported The New York Times on May 12.
The IOC says the results on 250 retests from the 2012 London Olympics will “come shortly.”
The committee also says it will follow-up with a “wider retesting” of medalists from Beijing and London.
In the Sochi Olympics, the director of the Russian anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, said at least 15 medal winners were part of the state-sponsored doping program that had been planned for years to make sure the nation dominated the games.
Rodchenkov said he created a three-drug cocktail of illegal steroid substances—metenolone, trenbolone and oxandrolone—that he mixed with liquor and gave to dozens of Russian competitors. The athletes included 14 members of its cross-country ski team and two veteran bobsledders who won two golds.
Rodchenkov said as many as 100 tainted urine samples were removed.
Russia won the most medals during the sporting event—with 13 golds and 33 medals in total. The United States won 9 golds and 28 total, finishing fourth on the medal table. Russia won 10 more medals than at the previous Winter Olympics. No athletes were caught doping.
After the allegations, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)said it would investigate the accusations made by Rodchenkov (who has volunteered to identify which samples he tampered with). The agency released a statement on May 10, saying it will “immediately probe the new Russian doping allegations, related to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.”
Meanwhile, the IOC said on May 12 that the “allegations are very detailed and very worrying.”
The committee said it “will not hesitate to act with its usual policy of zero tolerance for doping and defending the clean athletes” based on the results of the WADA investigation on the Sochi Olympics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.