It seems to be all too common today with hearing about sports and doping. Something needs to change within the mind of those athletes that want to cheat, but sometimes they might just not know the’re cheating, because of supplementation. This can damage the reputation of a sport. Athletics have been fighting on two fronts: against the dopers and their often undetectable drugs, and the lessening of the public’s trust.
Last Sunday’s positive tests for Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, the second and fourth fastest 100m runners of all time, merely added to this tale of ennui: a dispiriting sense that athletes need not just God-given genetics and hard work to succeed but an expert chemist too.
So who is right? According to David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Wada, there are grounds for optimism. Positive tests, for all the damage they do to the sport’s reputation and send sponsors scurrying away, at least it shows the system is working. At the same time, Howman recognizes that testers and dopers are locked in a vigorous cha-cha: as one moves forward with better technology, the other advances with better drugs. “We have made huge advances in the ways cheating can be exposed,” says Howman. “But the way the world works is that, when the good guys advance, so do the bad guys.” Howman also wonders whether getting testers in one country to monitor athletes of another might help. “Where is the incentive on a sport or on a country to do better to catch the cheats?” he asks. “It might be better to have the British test in France and the French test in Britain.”
Not that everything is perfect. As Andy Parkinson, chief executive of the UK Anti-Doping agency, points out: “The number of parts of the world where you can hide from testing has significantly decreased in the last 10 years. But it hasn’t been eliminated. There are parts of the world where you know you will not be tested.” Unsurprisingly he will not be drawn on the specifics.
Meanwhile, Powell’s positive test has highlighted another issue – that of athletes blaming tainted supplements in the hope that they will receive a lighter sentence. Wada’s view is that athletes should not take supplements at all because the industry is unregulated and there can be no guarantees of what they contain. “It is the athlete’s responsibility to ensure that everything he or she is ingesting is clean,” says McMillan. “But with all the clean, batch-tested options now available, there is no excuse for an athlete to test positive from a supplement – and from my experience, any athlete using this excuse is either lying or stupid.”
Synthetic peptide AOD9604 Mimics a section of the growth hormone molecule. Increases fat metabolism and lowers fat production, increases muscle mass and can possibly help heal cartilage damage.
Colostrum Mother’s milk. While not directly banned, colostrum could stimulate insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) secretion. IGF-1 is banned.
Hexarelin Boosts the body’s production of its own human growth hormone and, in so doing, may help increase muscle mass and strength. Banned by Wada.
Oxilofrine Amphetamine-like stimulant thought to boost adrenaline, enhance endurance, focus, alertness and heart rate as well as increase oxygenation of the blood.
It is a thought that he hopes will disturb the dopers’ dreams and keep them writhing uneasily in their beds in the years ahead. Athletes who don’t use supplements and just eat clean, and work hard can see results. I know people want to get results within minutes and not months or even years, that is why they use supplements. So if you’re going to be in a sport that doesn’t regulate supplements or test that often I would recommend not using them because before you know it they will, and then things will fall apart.
Forrest L. Rawls