FROM BEIJING AND LONDON WITHOUT LOVE
Just one week ago, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it had retested 454 doping samples from the 2008 Beijing Games, and identified 31 athletes from 12 countries in six sports whose test results were deemed suspicious. As a result, 14 of the athletes are Russians who compete in three of the Olympic game sports.
And if that’s not bad enough, the IOC is also retesting samples from the 2012 London in which an additional 23 violations have been found.
That makes 54 violations to date in what has been called by officials as the biggest doping scandal in the history of the Olympic Games1.
The retesting of athlete samples comes in the wake of longtime Russian anti-doping director, Grigory Rodchenkov’s disclosure of his years of helping Russian athletes who use performance-enhancing substances go undetected.
In fact, officials have found the doping among the Russian athletes so pervasive, there have been calls for the country to be banned altogether from the games, which would greatly diminish the competitiveness of the games as well as the pageantry if a country of Russia’s strength, power and discipline is excluded.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BANNED SUBSTANCES?
According to the World Anti-Doping (WADA), a list of the most commonly banned practices and/or substances that can potentially plague the 2016 Rio Games athletes are:
- Blood doping.
- Banned androgenic agents such as exogenous anabolic androgenic steroids.
- Other anabolic agents.
- Hormones and related substances such as erythropoiesis-stimulating agent.
- Diuretics and masking agents.
- Narcotics and cannabinoids.
While these methods and substances have been popular for quite some time in competitive sports, there can potentially be many more techniques to give athletes a performance advantage over their competition that simply has not yet been uncovered.
WIN AT ANY AND ALL COSTS
Whether an Olympic athlete is coerced by his or her coach, encouraged through national pride, or if that athlete simply seeks on a personal level to be the best possible within their sport, the win at any and all costs phenomena brings doping to an even higher level of concern that extends beyond pro or Olympic-level sports.
This is true as it’s been found that doping has spilled over from high-level sports into high school and even middle school sports where, of course, our kids may be involved.
The issue with this spill over comes with a winning at any and all costs attitude to which an introduction of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) is made, can progress toward the use of other drugs, such as opioids.
And while some do not believe PEDs are addictive, according to the National Institute of Health, with the use of steroids, people may continue to take them despite injury and other physical ailments due to side effects such as “roid rage,” which invariably can be a sign of addiction.
DRUG TESTING IN SPORTS: A WORK IN PROGRESS
More often than not, the PED user is far ahead of officials who seek and attempt to catch the athletes taking the PEDs. And while a combination of testing and the expansion of banned substances deemed as performance enhancing by entities such as the IOC and WADA has grown in size and reach, violators are also employing new techniques to not just go undetected, but to continually enhance their ability within their sport.
The irony is that in life as is the case with sports, at some point a user’s luck may run out, whereas they will either be “caught,” develop an addiction that leads them to other drugs, or ultimately, suffer life-long side effects – whether that be an addiction or some other sort of physical ailment.
Simply put, if you are an athlete, and have any choice at all as to whether you should or should not take PEDs, opt out as soon as you can. Hit the weight room instead, or work on your skills rather than relying on the dubious black magic of doping to make you better at your game.
In short, you may not win when facing an opponent who is doping, but at least you’ll be competing with a clear conscience.
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- 23 More Athletes Suspected of Doping Could Be Kept From Rio Games, The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.