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News: The fight to keep sport clean
Topic: News: The fight to keep sport clean (Read 438 times)
Chris Ⓐ LeRoux
MS, CSCS, Exempt from USAW bureaucrats
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News: The fight to keep sport clean
Jul 24, 2008, 07:14 AM »
The fight to keep sport clean
The world of sports will never condone a dope cheat. Still, cheats are in abundance in every sport especially those that require strength, explosive power and endurance, writes K. P. Mohan.
The story goes that ancient Greeks indulged in doping while participating in sports competitions. What is not folklore and what brought shame to all of Greece in 2004 was the unedifying sight of two of the host country’s medal hopefuls being chased by dope-testers and eventually ending up in hospital after what looked like a stage-managed motorbike accident.
The two Greek heroes involved in that drama, Kostadinos Kenteris and Eketerini Thanou, both of whom underwent a two-year suspension, are still facing a trial at home for making false statements even as the Greeks curse them for bringing a bad name to their country.
To have ended up in shame in that manner after having been tipped to light the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony must have been a shattering experience for Kenteris, the Sydney Olympics 200m champion.
But the world of athletics is full of such fallen heroes.
The picture of Ben Johnson, right index finger raised, crossing the line in the 100 metres flashes across your mind when you recall the Seoul Olympics. And then quickly you remember the Canadian leaving in shame; a doping cheat.
Twenty years down the line, when you say ‘dope’, people readily recall Ben Johnson. For a whole generation the Canadian, whose rivalry with the great Carl Lewis was the most celebrated match-up on the track, has remained the ‘face of doping’.
Maybe, in the years to come we will start thinking of Marion Jones as the ‘face of doping’.
No, she never tested positive for a banned substance. Yet, Jones is serving a jail term in a Texan prison for lying to Federal agents about steroid use.
In Sydney, eight years ago, Jones was the darling of the athletics world. Her smile captivated millions; her speed was electrifying. She was the epitome of athletics greatness.
Cut and shift to White Plains, New York, last October. A sobbing Jones pleads guilty of steroid use in front of a Federal court house and seeks forgiveness.
“I have been dishonest, and you have the right to be angry with me. I have let (my family) down. I have let my country down, and I have let myself down,” Jones told the media. “I recognise that by saying I’m deeply sorry, it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and hurt that I’ve caused you.
“Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”
The International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, said: “This is a sad day for sport. The only good that can be drawn from today’s revelations is that her decision to finally admit the truth will play, we hope, a key part in breaking the back of the BALCO affair.”
Following her admission of drug use, the IOC stripped her of the five Olympic medals she won in Sydney and also, in an unprecedented move, barred her from the Beijing Olympics in any capacity. A giant had fallen from a pedestal; an idol has been found to be a “cheat”.
Today, Jones is known by a mere number in a federal prison: Inmate 84868-054!
The world of sports will never condone a dope cheat. Still, cheats are in abundance in every sport especially those that require strength, explosive power and endurance. Not unexpectedly, in the Olympic year there is an all-out effort to cheat and attain goals that, depending on what you are looking for, might range from a place in the National team to a medal in the Beijing Games.
Again, expectantly, the anti-doping agencies have mounted a massive exercise to catch the cheats. The IOC has brought in a set of stringent rules to tackle dopers at the Olympics including testing at training venues in Beijing and abroad in the run-up to the Games. Various countries have toughened their laws to deal with the problem that has shaken the very foundation of the Olympic Movement.
Dope-testing in Olympics was started only in the 1968 Mexico City Games. It was a token effort that slowly grew to a mammoth exercise with 2359 tests being done at the Sydney Games in 2000 and 2815 tests at the Athens Games four years ago.
Beijing will see a substantial increase in those numbers, 4500 tests to be precise with 700 blood tests including 400 for hGH. The out-of-competition tests prior to the Games to be done by various agencies will be additional.
At 26 positive cases, Athens produced the largest number of positive tests so far in the Olympics. Even today many, especially in the media, consider such large numbers as a sign of the failure of anti-doping system which is a fallacy.
But Rogge argues and rightly so. “Each positive case is a victory. It eliminates a cheat and sends a message to those who want to cheat,” he said after the Athens Games. The more cheats you catch, the more credible your anti-doping measures become.
Unless the number of ‘positives’ go up, you won’t be sure whether the testers are succeeding or not. Today, when Usain Bolt runs a world record 9.72 in the 100 metres, the first question everyone asks is: “Is he clean?”
Former Olympic champion swimmer Gary Hall Jr. stunned an audience during the US Olympic trials by claiming that it was not the new Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit that explains the recent spate of world records, but good old doping. Scepticism is growing.
The IAAF conducted 1132 tests at the last World Championships in Osaka. There was not a single ‘positive’. Of the 127 tests done at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, the result was the same, not a single ‘positive’. Ditto the 2006 World Cup and World Road Running Championships.
Does this mean the athletes were “clean”? Far from it. It means the cheats were a step ahead of the testers. The cases of Marion Jones, Kelli White, Chryste Gaines, Andrew Young and Antonio Pettigrew, to name just a few, prove that given the ingenuity of athletes, support personnel and unscrupulous scientists, cheats could quite often be ahead of the anti-doping authorities. Out-of-competition testing should remain the main plank in the fight against doping.
BALCO brought out a completely new angle to dope control: Non-analytical ‘positives.’ In the wake of BALCO, which helped produce world-beaters, Olympic champions and world record setters through a programme of designer steroids and systematic doping, WADA sought more and more help from Government agencies to crack the illicit network. “Operation Puerto” in Spain that went into blood-doping and other supply of banned substances by a doctor, and “Operation Raw Deal” in the US and China that helped expose illegal steroids sale, were efforts co-ordinated by various government agencies.
Yet no one is being over-optimistic about the massive efforts mounted by the IOC, WADA and the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee. People know that cheats are still masquerading as record-setters and champions. Eleven Greek weightlifters were caught in the anti-doping net last April. Two months later, 11 Bulgarian weightlifters tested positive.
Weightlifting should consider itself lucky that the sport is still part of the Olympic programme. In recent years the International Weightlifting Federation has amassed more wealth than any other federation through a system of hefty fines in place of suspension of National federations. This has obviously proved counter-productive as the Greek and Bulgarian episodes reveal.
Athletics and cycling are not far behind weightlifting in terms of being high-risk ‘doping sports’. Post-BALCO, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has done some commendable work to catch several high-profile cheats and the US Government has speeded up its efforts to get the UNESCO Convention against doping in sports passed by the Senate.
Two of the most celebrated American sportsmen, sprinter Justin Gatlin, Olympic champion and 2005 World champion, and Floyd Landis, the 2007 Tour de France winner, who lost his crown because of a ‘positive’ test, are serving suspensions. Both pleaded innocence, with Landis mounting a multi-million-dollar defense of his appeal that was eventually thrown out with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), ordering partial costs to be paid by him to the USADA.
These cases should be lessons for prospective cheats. But they never seem to learn; the lure of an Olympic medal is so overpowering perhaps. The Chinese Olympic Committee recently named eight sportspersons, all Olympic team contenders, who failed dope tests in the first half of this year. The Chinese have stated that anyone caught doping in the Beijing Games would be banned for life.
The IOC has also adopted an unrelenting posture. It has ruled that an athlete being suspended for more than six months, from July 1 onwards, would be banned from the next Olympics. Effectively, the IOC is extending the two-year standard ban to four years. Be sure, under Rogge there will be no mercy shown to the cheats.
The IAAF, the first international federation to introduce anti-doping rules, way back in 1928, wanted to go back to its four-year ban, but there were very few supporters for it in the world conference on doping in Madrid last year. With Governments getting more and more involved through law-enforcing agencies, the fight against doping has gained a never-before momentum.
Nations have amended their doping laws, the UNESCO Convention has given legitimacy to the WADA Code and committed governments to the cause of anti-doping.
New test kits for human growth hormone (hGH), WADA says, have been distributed among all the 33 accredited laboratories. Beijing will use them. The new WADA President, John Fahey, has warned potential hGH users at the Olympics that they won’t get through the net.
Asked by the BBC in 2006 if anti-doping authorities would ever get ahead of the cheats, the former WADA Chief, Richard Pound, said: “I don’t think so, they always have the advantage of moving first. But with the amount of research funding we are putting into developing better and better tests I think we can narrow the gap.”
"Show me the government that does not infringe upon anyone's rights, and I will no longer call myself an anarchist." ~Jacob Halbrooks
Re: News: The fight to keep sport clean
Reply #1 on:
Jul 24, 2008, 07:28 AM »
I've never seen a drug war that didnt nearly rip what it was attempting to protect apart. Not saying it's not necessary, just making an observation.
News: The fight to keep sport clean
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