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Spare none in fight against doping

Published:Monday | August 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr Paul Wright, Contributor

Experts in the fight against doping in sports have long discussed and recognised that governments and anti-doping organisations worldwide have very little incentive to discover and prove if any of its marquee names (in any sport) has used or is using drugs to impact their performance.

The change in personnel at the top of anti-doping organisations have revealed (sometimes) that there were athletes whose performances brought fame and glory to an organisation or a country, but who had suspicious or positive tests that were stifled or ignored.

A change in personnel at the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) revealed that there were positive/suspicious tests on eventual gold medal winners at World Games that were ignored or forgiven. The USADA is not by any means alone.


Secrets revealed

Disgraced multiple Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, has given evidence of complicity of workers in drug testing labs, doping control officers and cycling administrative officers who aided and abetted his effort in not ever testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The public is now aware of leaks that suggest 'unusual' behaviour in anti-doping organisations of Russia and Kenya.

Wholesale removal of personnel from those organisations, including whistleblowers, was thought to be the key to robust anti-doping in those countries. However, the independent review of blood tests of athletes who performed at the Olympics and World Championships over at least the last 10 years have revealed results that have cast a cloud on the effectiveness of anti-doping efforts at a higher level.

The introduction of blood tests and the initiation of an athletic passport wherein blood tests taken during an athlete's career would be recorded and analysed along with blood tests done during competition, to detect the use of performance-enhancing substances that are known to escape detection, due to the narrow window of opportunity available to anti-doping agencies who suspect drug use by a particular athlete was supposed to deter doping.


Test refusal

We now know that one of the above named anti-doping agencies refused point blank to do blood tests on their athletes. The allegations published in the Sunday Times of England on August 2 this year seem to suggest that the mantra of 'protect the sport at all costs' is not only practised by local anti-doping organisations, but now at the highest level of athletic administration, the IAAF!

The oversight body of doping in sports, the World Anti-Doping Authority, has promised an immediate investigation, reminding all that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. As the investigation unfolds, what we need to recall is the strange verbal support from a very high official of the IAAF, when a global star recently tested positive for a substance known to the athletic fraternity as a masker of drug use. This recent revelation by the Sunday Times will be the subject of intensive investigation to determine its veracity.

However, coming just before the World Championships in athletics, due to begin in less than three weeks, this information will remove some of the lustre associated with this event. Jamaicans can rest easy, as the same report in the Sunday Times, although not naming athletes whose blood tests were suspicious, stated categorically that British athletes Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, as well as the world's fastest human, Usain Bolt, had NO SUSPICIOUS TEST RESULTS in the samples analysed.

It must be now obvious to everyone that Bolt IS the most important icon in a sport that is fast catching up with cycling as the most suspicious sport in the world, as far as drug use is concerned.

Leaks and confessions are now the number-one weapon in this fight against doping that we must win. Let us continue to identify, not only the athletes who cheat, but let us also name and shame administrative officials of any stripe who facilitate cheating.