by Gordon Jeremiah Berry
With the Olympics now well underway, questions that are continuing to plague each sporting event is the abuse of drugs or performance-enhancing substances. Despite various agencies in charge of overseeing that such abuses don’t take place, abuse is still widespread and common. Such agencies in charge of oversight include: the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In total, there are well over 200 banned substances, including the following:
Anabolic Androgenic Steroids, Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances and Mimetics, Beta Agonists, Hormone and Metabolic Modulators, and Diuretics and Masking Agents.
It sometimes takes years to be able to uncover a doping scandal. Most involved are great at cover-it-up; that’s why it normally takes so long to be discovered.
Recently, Russia was one of the main countries caught trying to cover it up. In their case, first, clean urine samples were collected from athletes, months ahead of the Olympics. Second, banned drugs are mixed with booze so they pass quickly. Third, as the competition gets underway, each athlete submits a urine sample for testing and takes a snapshot of its code. Fourth, this is around the time the Olympics takes place. Fifth, the lab receives a list of medalists whose samples need swapping. Sixth, next door to the sample collection room is a number, like 124, a storage space converted into a covert lab. Seventh, the tainted sample is passed through a hole in the wall. Eight, the Swiss-made sample bottle has a special lock that uses toothed metal rings; the bottle is tamper-proof supposedly. Ninth, several hours would then pass. Tenth, now the lab can do anything it likes with the dirty sample.
According to a report done back in 2013, by the World Anti-Doping Agency, for both summer and winter Olympics doping violations by country ranked Russia at the top for violations with 225, followed by Turkey 188, France 108, India 95, Belgium 94, Italy 73, Spain 67, Poland 55, and so on. Also a more recent report by WADA uncovered a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics including top Russian officials that were accused of encouraging and even indirectly promoting drug uses.
Once an athlete is banned, such as the case with Russian athletes this time around, they would first have to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports over the blanket of the ban. Then they would have to pass three to six tests within six months, conducted by foreign anti-doping agencies. Track and field athletes where the only exception among the group not eligible for reinstatement. In total, 118 of the 389 Russian team have been banned from competing in Rio.
Reasoning blamed range from the way Russians link sports success with political success, nationalism, pride, even arrogance, which could just as easily be linked to any other country competing as well.
This has been very unfortunate and perhaps has taken away from the spotlight some of the heart-warming stories you sometimes hear about during the Olympics seasons, such as the ten refugee athletes that will compete on the world stage at the 2016 Rio Olympics—athletes that were simply trying to make it through life and become refugees do to war, famine, poverty, civil unrest, and even religious persecution.
Let us perhaps find a sense of humanity within the Olympics each time we watch, focusing and reflecting on the positive things that bring us all together instead of the negative things that will tear us apart.
About the Author
Gordon Jeremiah Berry, is an avid reader and intense researcher. Mr. Berry looks for the deeper meaning behind all things. His favorite saying is “Love must always win out!”