Beijing Olympics SteroidsThe number of athletes who tested positive for steroids and other banned substances had hit 12-year low in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics and yet more and more athletes are being doubted for winning through legitimate means.

Take a look at the case of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimming sensation Michael Phelps.

Bolt, who now currently holds both the Olympic and world records for the 100 meters, elicits some suspicion on his superb performance at the Bird’s Nest Stadium as he broke three world records in Beijing, way too easy in the opinions of fans and sports observers alike. This despite the fact that Bolt underwent rigorous and multiple drug screenings and passed them all.

Phelps, on the other hand, raked in eight gold medals in swimming and is now the proud holder of seven world records in swimming. And some opine the latest Spedoo LZR RACER swimwear might not be the only help the 23-year-old swimmer is getting when he hits the water.

The cynical view of many stems from the stark reality that former record holders and seemingly invincible Olympians have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs later on in their careers. Marion Jones and Ben Johnson are just two of the many who had once basked in Olympic glory then retreated in disgrace because of steroid use.

American sprinter Michael Johnson acknowledges this problem.

“It’s unfortunate what has happened to the sport and it has to be addressed and it is being addressed,” Johnson said. “But if someone wants to believe the only way (Bolt) can do what he’s doing is through doping, that is their prerogative.” Johnson’s world record in the 200-meter dash was broken by Bolt in Beijing.

There is also the concern of new class of PEDs, called designer drugs, and newfangled doping techniques constantly emerging from some rudimentary lab in some obscure places across the United States and elsewhere. Gene doping is at the forefront of these new doping technologies and anti-doping officials scramble as they find new ways to detect them.

Remember the case of Marion Jones, et al? Jones, who is currently serving her 6-month prison term due to lying to investigators who questioned her about her use of steroids, breezed through screenings while using the latest designer steroid at that time THG, or tetrahydrogestrinone. Jones, with her apparent use of THG, conquered the track to win five medals in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.  Jones and the other athletes might have continued with such illegal practice had it not been for the whistleblower in their coop, her track coach Trevor Graham.

Only six athletes of the nearly 11,000 participants in Beijing fell to the dragnet of the IOC and the question hangs if how many of these athletes were able to outsmart officials and got away with the gold loot.

The IOC also launched its first coordinated pre-games testing program, which caught 39 athletes and barred them from participating before the Aug. 8 opening ceremony. Such tests, for example, led to the entire Bulgarian weightlifting team to drop out before the Olympics.
While more positive drug test results could still turn up, especially for substances such as the blood booster erythropoietin, or EPOs, that take longer to detect, IOC officials were celebrating what they said was a victory for athletic fair play.

“We feel the deterrent effect played a part in what we see,” said IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies. “The athletes know that at this event the IOC, which is the organization running the doping programs, means business in not having those who cheat as a part of these events.”

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