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Doping cheats have it easy


          In the eyes of the world, everything went wonderfully well at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Fantastic world records, superhuman performances and a wondrous glut of medals for the Chinese who were the dominant features of the Games and not, as feared, doping scandals for only a few cheats were caught.
          But the real scandal is the sugarcoating of the amateurishly conducted anti-doping fight (in spite of all the efforts), and the hero worshipping of the super athletes for the thrill. It is incomprehensive that the Olympic Games are degenerating more and more into a Circus Maximus where honest runners, swimmers, cyclists or rowers all lag behind.

     Sports officials not totally naive about doping know that in top level sport performances are being manipulated on a massive scale by athletes using, largely undetected, gene-doping, epo, epo mimetica, HGH growth hormones, IGF growth hormones combined with insulin, HIF stabilisers, myostatin blockers, designer steroids and dozens of undetectable doping substances. The cheats laughed at the 5,000 or more doping tests in Beijing as they knew exactly how they could get around them. It was nothing new. Kelli White, the repentant former sprint world champion, said the only thing she and her fellow athletes were not afraid of were doping tests.
     When taking up office, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Jacques Rogge, promised "zero tolerance" in all things doping. Marvellous words but reality is different. The IOC took little notice of the slack national controls that, in the majority of countries, were often conducted against the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). How could the IOC allow Jamaica to compete in Beijing? A country of excellent sprinters that has not joined the anti-doping organisation of the Caribbean states and a country where there are no unannounced doping tests. Especially the sprint competitions with its masses of convicted medal winners, is, after all, well known as being doping infested.
      The lords of the rings Jacques Rogge and his IOC Vice President Thomas Bach are well aware that money is the all-important factor if sport is to get out of the worst doping mess. The laboratories and scientific research institutes require far more money if new, trend setting analysis is to be developed within a shorter space of time. According to experts, the sum of money needed to fund the work of the doping testers will total five hundred million dollars. Rogge feels, "We have do a lot more research and discover new methods." But how when there is a lack of money? Why does the IOC, who make billions from the Olympic Games, only finance the fight against the doping evil with comparatively laughable sums. The money would be a good investment for the many cheats would quickly steer clear of forbidden substances and the doping mafia, if there was a high risk of them being caught.
     It is a shame when testers in the doping laboratories are outwitted by chemists in back street labs because of a lack of funding.  As well it often takes years until new and good testing procedures are put in place in the doping laboratories. We also miss the will to close well-known doping loopholes and finally medical experts don't understand that helpful medical criteria are not utilised to detect doping offenders.
           One form of deception is when one pretends to be hot on the heels of the doping cheats. It is a disgrace when sport officials close their eyes to the doping problems when we all aware of the enormous amounts of doping substances that are in circulation and how systematically the magical substances are being used. Just one example. There are chemicals that prevent the over-acidification of muscles and, combined with Epo, can lead to superhuman performances.
      The doping control system has also been a catastrophe for years now. The people that are truly interested in doping-free sports have to change it radically. It is a truism to say that doping testers have to just turn up at the right time to catch cheats. When speaking after the Games in Beijing, what was the intention behind the IOC President's words, "I'm glad that the overwhelming majority of the athletes are clean." In carrying out 5,000 tests in Beijing, does the IOC really want to lead the world to believe that the games were clean? "The number of tests carried out says absolutely nothing," was the realistic assessment of Peter Danckert, the chairman of

the German parliament's Sports Commission. "Those citing the figure try to give false evidence."
       A sad fact is that top level sport is contaminated, and doping is not a fringe phenomena in China, Russia, USA or Greece. The national committees are the authorities responsible for the controls which means that the measures taken, when and how lies in their hands. Absurd to all intents and purposes. Interest in catching doped superhuman athletes stands in stark contrast to the greed for medals and therefore leads to the controls not being taken seriously and to the covering up of athletes that have tested positive. The permanent refusal to allow independent bodies to "x-ray" sport for fear that too much may be uncovered is therefore understandable. That a Swiss blood-doping specialist who was due to work in the Beijing laboratory was denied an entry visa is something that should never happen again. All rather fishy, it literally smells of intrigue and cheating.
       And as nobody can be trusted - a case in point are a few doctors at the renowned University of Freiburg that were involved in systematic doping over many years - each and every athlete competing at major international events like the Olympic Games and World and European Championships, have to be centrally and consistently tested by an independent and neutral organisation. One has to separate the control system from the sports federations. Standardised controls have to apply the world over for top athletes. The whole set of rules, with clear regulations, have to be approved by every National Olympic Committee (NOC), sports federation and internationally competing athlete. Those not participating have to be rigorously excluded from competitions in the interest of honest sportsmen and women.
       Its a herculean task for the IOC, the Wada and all sports nations. There is no other alternative. Explaining top level sport to society with the shallow words, "Scepticism yes, suspicion no" (Thomas Bach, a IOC Vice President) is unbearable in the long run. Clean sportsmen and women want the mistrust in their performances to stop and true sports fans will again be able to get simply excited about great performances without having doubts in their minds. The evil has to be finally combated at its root causes with all the means available for doping in sports and has to be criminally prosecuted like every other form of cheating. Especially when it acts as a deterrent to others. One should also introduce lifelong bans as sports cheats do not deserve a second chance.
       Sport will not be able solve its doping problems without the state getting involved. This is something that Jacques Rogge has also recognised. According to the IOC boss, there are systems like Balco in USA or the Puerto model in Spain that have an organised fraudulent set-up. It is therefore important to cooperate with governments to track down the gangs. And rightly so as states have the duty to prosecute criminal offences like drug misuse, bodily harm, tax evasion, money laundering, smuggling and fraud. All these criminal offences are also common in the doping scene and the state has first and foremost far greater options open to it than sport to tackle the cheats and doping mafia.
       Just how big the criminal doping practices are in our global world and just how urgent the need is for them to be dealt with has been made obvious by the fact that Interpol and its infrastructure in 187 member countries is now involved in the fight against doping. However the Secretary General Ronald Noble immediately raised the point that, "The resources to that can be used to recognise and break up doping networks will remain unused without the political will to deal with the situation."
       Top level sport will obviously never be completely clean. There will always be diehards that will stop at nothing in their use of doping substances. It is all about reducing doping to a minimum to protect honest athletes who have lost their faith in fair competitions and to prevent young athletes from putting their health, if not their life, on the line in their striving for records.


                    Dr. rer. nat. Eberhard Pino Mueller **

** The author has studied pharmacy, pharmacology and has a Master (doctor's) degree in chemistry. He is among other things specialized on doping themes

published: September 2009  - http://fantaneanu.ro/doping-cheats-have-it-easy 
dublicates to: J. Rogge IOC,  T. Bach DOSB,  WADA,  NADA,  Sports Commitee of Parliament,  VDS,  AIPS                     


Why is the fight against doping not really moving forward? What is going wrong?
Thoughts and ideas of leading representatives from sport, medicine and politics on the anti-doping fight
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