It is time now for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to work with force on member nations who refuse to suspend or ban permanently athletes who test positive for performance enhancing drugs. After all of the many recent positive drug tests, it is now time to put a stop to apparent state–endorsed and or state-ignored doping once and for all, otherwise, without a deterrent doping will continue, unabated.
Wada and the IAAF need to set a precedent now. Without repercussions, large-scale doping will continue. If participation or success at the Olympic Games level is so important to member nations, then risking all will bring closer the probability of putting a stop to apparent organised doping. After all it is the IAAF who maintain, “Only a “clean” athlete should be allowed to benefit from his or her competitive results.”
In April of 2013, thirty-one Turkish athletes tested positive for anabolic steroids. The biggest name from the group is likely 1500 metre Olympic gold medallist, Asli Ckir Alptkin, who having already been suspended for two years for doping infractions in 2004; this time she faced a lifetime ban. On December 3rd, The Turkish Athletics Federation exonerated the athlete. “It has been decided that there is no grounds for national sporting sanctions against Asli Cakir Alptekin as she did not violate any anti-doping rules,” said a statement from the disciplinary commission on the Turkish federation`s website. The Turkish Athletics Federation may be making a mockery of the process.
During the Paris July 6th Diamond League Meet, Alpktin sent up a red flag by shaving a mountainous five seconds off of her own personal best time, winning the race in the time of 3:56.62, six weeks later she won the 2012 London Olympics 1500 metre gold medal. At that time, anomalies were found in her biological passport and were reported on March 22nd 2013. The other Turkish athletes that tested positive were found to have traces of the anabolic steroids, Stanazolol and Turinabol in their system. Injected Turinabol remains in the system for 12 to 18 months. Taken orally, Stanazolol remains in the system for as short a period of time as two weeks and up to six weeks. Masking agents clear the system in just a few days up to less than a month. There is the possibility that if she was tested today, the results could come back negative, what retribution is there? Perhaps the Turkish Athletics Federation is gambling. Neither Wada nor the IAAF have made official statements at this time.
On November 9th, Athletics Illustrated wrote, “On the eve of The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) conference that takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, ‘to help shape the future of one of the most pressing issues faced in sport today – doping’ sports fans, stakeholders and athletes everywhere are interested in what will come of the conference. In terms of catching up with performance enhancing drug cheats, is progress going to be made?’ The question of the day was will a first-time four year ban be endorsed for drug cheats. Without serious repercussions apparent organised doping will continue.
During 2013, American sprinter Tyson Gay, as well as five Jamaican athletes returned positive tests including, sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, high jumper Demar Robinson, discus throwers Allison Randall and Traves Smikle. There are several more unnamed athletes, rumoured to be from Jamaica that apparently have had positive tests.
At laboratories situated in Cologne and Moscow, while incorporating new testing methods, hundreds of urine samples have tested positive for large amounts of anabolic steroids, taken from the 2012 London Olympic Games. Orally-taken Turinabol is one of the agents detected. Turinabol was identified that was under heavy usage during the state-run doping programme of the former East German sports machine. And, just as in Turkey, Stanazolol was also detected. However, with the new testing method called, ‘long-term metabolites method’, steroids can now be detected more than six months after they were taken.
The steps that need to happen in order to kill cheating are to act swiftly, reward the next clean athlete; move them up one position immediately. Provide a four-year ban for first-time athletes and lifetime bans for second-time offenders and finally, suspend member nations from international competition until proven clean. The sport of athletics risks a major set-back of unprecedented proportions, should the hundreds of samples from the 2012 London Olympic Games not be acted upon with force and finality.
The first and crucial step to winning the war on drugs is to catch up to the drug trade and the methods of masking them. It is widely believed that Wada and the IAAF are finally gaining on the cheaters however; if apparent state-endorsed and or state-ignored doping continues, so will the doping. With the ability to detect steroids more efficiently, it is time now to send a clear and strong message to all cheaters and their supporters, be it a coach, medical professional, fellow athletes or management, that cheating will not be tolerated.