Blood doping, a scourge in world sports since the scandal-hit 1998 edition of the Tour de France cycling classic, will not help athletes to glory at next month's Olympic Games in Athens, experts say.

"If you cheat, you will be caught," Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), wrote in the agency's Play True newsletter.

Swede Arne Ljungqvist, who heads the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) medical commission, echoed Pound's confidence that blood-doping cheats would be caught, saying testing would increase in Athens during the August 13-29 Games.

"All ways of enhancing the performance capability by increasing the number of red blood cells are well covered by anti-doping laboratories," Ljungqvist told Reuters in a recent interview.

Blood doping can boost athletes' performance, especially in endurance disciplines such as long-distance running, swimming and cycling.

Substances and methods that artificially increase the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to muscles, are banned.

Athletics sprint world champion Kelli White of the United States was suspended for two years in May after admitting she had used the blood-boosting synthetic hormone erythropoietin (EPO) as well as prohibited muscle-building anabolic steroids.

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) decided in November 2002 that all swimmers who break world records must undergo tests for EPO. The move followed complaints from some top swimmers about the lack of tests.

Filed by Barry J Whyte