It seems that some top athletes will cheat to maintain their careers and to stay in the lime light. Recently a new performance enhancing drug has been added to the long list of banned substances. It is a Latvian prescription only drug used to treat heart problems. The drug, meldonium, has proved useful for heat patients to help increase ability to exercise. It is usually prescribed for a course of six weeks.
The World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) warned athletes of the ban effective January 1 of this year. Elite athletes, whether professional or amateur, are responsible for ensuring that they are ‘clean’ when they compete.
The drug burst into the public consciousness when top seeded tennis player Maria Sharipova tested positive for the banned substance in early March. Many more athletes have also tested for the banned substance, many from Russia and eastern European countries. The count is currently up to 100 positive tests.
Russia is currently under scrutiny for its doping of athletes. It is alleged that the doping is state sponsored. WADA is debating whether to ban all the Russian athletes from the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Strange things have happened since the scandal broke in Russia. The head of the lab in charge of testing athletes for banned substances met an early death. His successor quickly followed when he suffered what was an apparent heart attack after an afternoon of cross country skiing. The lab has had its certification suspended due to irregularities.
The Russian sports minister assured the public in an interview that he was confident than no Russians were taking the banned substance. Shortly afterwards it was announced that four more athletes had tested positive.
August is coming up quickly for these athletes. Some may have openly consumed the drug before the ban and are slow to eliminate it from their bodies, but positive tests may keep them out of the Olympics.
The World Anti-doping Agency(WADA) has been investigating allegations that the Russian sportsworld has entrenched and widespread cheating. The investigation began December 2014 and has prompted the organization to recommend that the International Association of Athletics Foundation impose sanctions on the Russian athletes as well as remove the accreditation of the Moscow based testing facility.
In a media event, the chair of the independent commission to investigate persistent rumours of institutionalized doping, Dick Pound was quoted:
It's pretty disturbing," Pound said. "It's worse than we thought." CBC Sports
The commission has recommended that Russia be declared “non-compliant” with the current anti-doping rules. They particularly focussed on the track and field athletes and stated that they hoped that the doping could be cleaned up before the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The comprehensive report touched on many aspects of sport in Russia. The following are a few of the pertinent points.
Many of us have witnessed the long standing investigation into doping allegations that swirled around cycling great Lance Armstrong. His performances in the Tour de France were truly amazing, but it turns out years later that he admitted to cheating. Other cycling stars have stated that during those ‘doping days’ that you couldn’t touch the podium without doping. Armstrong had his TDF wins expunged from the record books.
It is shameful that those in charge of young athletes would expose them to life altering chemicals in the quest for a dubious national glory. The cheaters in turn rob the ‘clean’ athletes of their rightful recognition and while they are classed as amateurs, rob them of the lucrative contracts offered to gold medal winners.
Wada Independent Commission Report
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