So, drugs in sport; good, bad, whatever?

‘Leaked IAAF doping files: Wada ‘very alarmed’ by allegations’:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) says it is “very alarmed” after fresh allegations of suspected doping emerged in a leak of test data.

The Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD/WRD have obtained access to the results of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes.

According to the newspaper, the evidence - which has been seen by the BBC - reveals the “extraordinary extent of cheating” by athletes at the world’s biggest events.

Wada’s independent commission will investigate the claims in the ARD/WRD documentary Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics.

Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said his organisation was “very disturbed by these new allegations… which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide”.

The files belong to world governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), but have been leaked by a whistle-blower.

The Sunday Times and ARD/WRD used two of the world’s “foremost anti-doping experts”, scientists Robin Parisotto and Michael Ashenden, to review the data.

According to the experts, the database reveals:

A third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests. It is claimed none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.

More than 800 athletes - one in seven of those named in the files - have recorded blood tests described by one of the experts as “highly suggestive of doping or at the very least abnormal”.

Ten medals at London 2012 were won by athletes who have dubious test results. In some finals, every athlete in the three medal positions had recorded a suspicious blood test.

Russia emerges as “the blood testing epicentre of the world” with more than 80% of the country’s medals won by suspicious athletes, while Kenya had 18 medals won by suspicious athletes.

Off course this is just Athletics, but in general i think there should really be a zero tolerance approach - bans for life (of the athlete and coaches), in all sports. I just don’t see the point in getting interested in a sport (as in watching/supporting) when the majority of those taking part are not just exceptional clean athletes. The other side of that is just let it become legal and see new World Records all the time (which is exciting)?

I don’t see what the fuss is about, let the “main” sports proceed along whatever enhancement lines people wish (that are safe, supervised, etc.) and let those who want to draw the line somewhere draw the line wherever they want and have their own events.

I guess there’s two viewpoints on this:-

  1. How far, fast, etc., etc. can human beings do stuff in absolute terms, and

  2. How far, fast, etc., can human beings do stuff relative to any given limit drawn on enhancement (or, more charitably, in a way that’s safe - but that could just as easily belong to 1) ).

To me, the line between (e.g.) eating healthy food on the one hand and more scientific, targeted types of enhancement on the other, is fuzzy and somewhat arbitrary. You might say there’s something very different on the other side of the fuzzy line, but you’d be hard pressed to give an objective rationale for it.

The argument “but it’s the athlete’s effort/skill, etc., that’s important” is obviously moot, since they’re going to be putting out 100% effort and skill no matter what they’re on.

People getting up in arms about it seems to me to be just another one of those officially sanctioned substitutes for religion that are so popular these days.

Testing means and diagnosing of doping continues to improve.

I think most people who aren’t naive figure that doping to some extent happens, but that more and more athletes who do it are getting caught. I think it’s reductive to look at 2004 or 2006 when HGH testing was almost non-existent and get worked up. The testing for it and masking agents have improved markedly and will continue to do so.

And just to clarify something in the original article for those not deeply into sports: “doping” does not always involve drugs, but often transfusions.

Yeah that is becoming much more common. I wonder what the health costs are to the athlete, on the longer term? In general when i know that a sport is mostly being played by ‘drugged’ parties i do lose interest, i pretty much stopped watching the Tour de France (and i’ve loved cycling most my life), and athletics is approaching that same ‘meh…i’ll find something else to watch’ cut off point.

And it is not just drugs stuff, but the whole ‘scam’ of things like betting syndicates influencing a sport (Cricket the big one, but football in various parts of the world is pretty much rife with all that). Cheats of whatever flavour, are just not that interesting to me, i could do it as could any of us (more or less). It cheapens the spectacle and what kind of message is it for the young?

That is an oddly worded article. All is discussion of results are “suspicious” and not “failed”. Also, some of the results discussed seem to imply that they they took place in the past and not during the specific event in which they medaled. I’m not denying cheating - it clearly happens. It just seems to me that the results are being presented to further the thesis of the article rather than representing the truth.

It was about a leaked report that seems to indicate a much larger scale issue than is the ‘normal’ perception (ie we catch people from time to time like that canadian sprinter from a ways back). It would appear many more athletes are drugged but not getting sanctioned for it (for whatever reason).

The guardian has a bit more detail (in it’s in article links etc):

I guess the use of the term ‘suspicious’ is a legal thing, until it is proven a positive result etc. And maybe part of the issue is a lack of resources to chase every single ‘suspicious’ result down, if it is as prevalent as the leaked paper suggests?

Testing for certain difficult-to-detect substances like synthetic HGH continues to develop. They now have fairly accurate tests, but that’s a recent development. What WADA (who are NOT an uninterested bystander and have been themselves the perpetrators of witch hunts) and the IOOC attempted to do in past Olympiads was collect blood samples and freeze/store them for future testing when HGH detection improved.

So…now it has improved. But one thing analysts using these modern tests will tell anti-doping officials is that synthetic HGH is usually not detected. What is detected is elevated levels of natural hormones (usually testosterone) taken to mask the presence of HGH or even anabolic steroids like stanozolol. The problem: even frozen blood samples over time begin to give wildly inaccurate results of the presences of these natural hormones that mask.

Thus, the IOOC wisely determined not to act on this shaky data, which didn’t stop WADA from getting folks to try to grab some pitchforks and torches anyway.

And some more on all this:

‘Banned drugs found in 3,000 samples in 2014, says Wada’:

Banned substances were found in more than 3,000 samples out of 283,304 tests carried out worldwide last year, World Anti-Doping Agency figures reveal.

However, that represented a fall, across all sports, of more than 10%, despite an increase in the number of tests carried out.

Athletics has been the subject of allegations of widespread doping.

And Wada has told the BBC more than 10% of elite athletes could be using performance-enhancing drugs.

Russia faces expulsion from world athletics:

It would be nice if they redirected so much of this PED industry into helping people with actual diseases. It’s kind of sick transfusions are being used for sports instead of ER care.

I think there was an NFL player this past week that said the high incidence of injuries is directly related to PED use. Whereas having better turf was supposed to lower ankle and knee injuries. Spietel did an article with Angel Herreria and it was jaw dropping:

I really had no idea PED’s were so indemic and it makes me wonder what kind of pressure my nephew will be under when he gets into high school football/baseball. It’s his LIFE and the pressure to the best is already crushing in just the 5th grade.

Many school districts actually test high school athletes now a days. I know mine does. But I have no doubt there are kids who push the envelope. College athletes are tested routinely for any drug use.

I have very little first hand knowledge (done some work with a college golf team), but most college athletes are busted for weed.

The problem is new PED’s and combinations are developed faster than they can test for them.

If you read the link I posted above, keeping up with PED’s sounds hopeless and like it’s going to only get worse.

Yeah, that was a pretty fascinating read. I wonder how much exaggeration there was, but even if the truth is somewhere in between, then it is bad news for competitive sport, at many levels.

How the heck am I supposed to raise a child and foster an interest in physical fitness through sport if such environments can be allowed to persist?

I’d care less if drug cheats just split out into their own competition, but if they are not honest now and can’t be detected, what would really change? Go struggle to compete with the rest of the ‘enhancers’, or stay with the ‘clean’ competitors and win, while not getting caught anyway? Difficult choice.

I think the only real answer is to stamp out the corruption and life ban the fuck out of any fucker caught doping - zero tolerance. Then let them have their own little drug cocktail competition. Of course we’s still have to be able to catch them.

For me it’s the poor bans you get if caught. 2 years. I saw an interview with a Long Jumper who said some serious injuries can last for around 18 months including rehab etc and a 2 year ban is not a lot different.

I would like to see a 10 year ban for a first offence.

I mean how Justin Gatland can have 2 bans and still race is beyond me, really the athletes should stand up be counted and say we aint racing against this cheat.

We don’t need rehabilitation for cheats just long bans.

yeah i think a zero-tolerance approach is needed, the deterrent is obviously not working (across all sports let’s not forget!). It obviously is very tricky where you have examples of a common medicine being possible to be flagged up as a test ‘fail’, but certainly where you have repeat offences, and even athletes (such as Gatland as you mention) showing zero concern about getting caught (the ‘everyone is doing it’ excuse), lifetime bans and medal stripping should be the norm.

Until it gets that severe (your career being the cost) i just can’t see it going away. So it needs to be zero tolerance (in all sports) imho, otherwise it really is not fair on the clean athletes that may be missing out on medals and success their honest hard work deserves.

As a semi-pro rugby player back in the day, i do remember an ‘outbreak’ of some kind of hyper-caffine orange drink doing the rounds in rugby at that time, and i would have no part in it, partially because the guys that did take it suffered the shakes after the match (which just did not seem healthy), but also it just seemed a lazy option to doing the hardwork to be in your best shape possible.

I doubt people who take steroids and the like (sensibly) work any less hard at excelling than people who don’t, in fact I think they probably work more, because their bodies can tolerate it better.

If the point is to see what human beings are capable of, then nothing is going to be left on the table - neither enhancements nor hard work.

If the point is to set an arbitrary limit on what enhancements are allowed, then people should set up their own events with those limits agreed - compliance would be much more likely.

No, I think the point is money. Cheat the system to gain maximum return.

Yeah but that’s only because of a context in which things like steroids, etc., are considered cheating.

We should have an alternate Olympics where every drug is allowed. And in the future extend that to cybernetic implants. Imagine how fast and competitive it’d be! Granted, people might die from the drugs, but if the drugs weren’t all done in secret then there might be proper information about them and coaches and athletes can choose the right cocktail?