There’s an old saying that “Cheaters never prosper”, but in modern athletics it seems laughable. The World Anti Doping Agency(WADA) has announced that 23 more tests for performing enhancing substances have proved positive. Samples are kept for ten years, so as methods improve, retesting may show that medal winners cheated.
One of the named cheaters is Russian athlete Anna Chicherova. She won bronze in the Beijing Olympics and went on to garner gold in the 2012 London meet. While she may be forced to return her medals, she will have elbowed out of the spotlight the true, clean athletes who competed against her.
High profile Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova has been suspended from the International Tennis Federation for doping. A drug available in eastern Europe, meldonium, has been banned. It increases blood flow and was developed for short term use in people with circulation problems. She has admitted using the substance for years, including after it was banned.
It’s ok though. This very successful professional tennis star may be banned from the professional competitions, but she has already been named to the Russian Olympic tennis team. WADA does not have the authority to immediately ban athletes. The International Olympic Committee could ban athletes immediately but does not appear to be planning to do so.
A former employee of the Russian drug testing facility has testified about state sponsored cheating. Kenya has been named as non-compliant in ensuring clean athletes. They have been given six months to comply. Of course the summer Olympics will be over for another four years and those clean athletes will have been cheated by the dopers.
There used to be speculation about some of the eastern bloc women competing internationally but little actual drug testing was done before the early ‘60s. Since then, the IOC has stripped 67 medals from competitors. Some like superstar Marion Jones held three gold medals and two bronze from the 1992 Olympics. She competed for the USA.
Note: An "Open letter to World Health Organisation re Olympics and Zika virus" has been dismissed.
Saturday BBC News reports - Zika crisis: WHO rejects 'move Rio Olympics' call.
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.
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