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Sunday 16, Aug 2015

  Ashenden Hits Back At IAAF Presidential Candidate

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Michael Ashenden, who was one of two anti-doping experts to be enlisted by the Sunday Times, has hit back at IAAF Presidential candidate Lord Sebastian Coe. Ashenden accused the world governing body of athletics in an open letter to Coe accusing the International Association of Athletics Federations of lacking the drive to clean up the sport.

Ashenden recently analysed leaked data belonging to the IAAF that included more than 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 athletes. The two scientists concluded that hundreds of athletes had recorded suspicious test results that were not followed up. The under-fire IAAF recently criticized Ashenden and fellow expert Robin Parisotto and Coe was particularly outspoken. The IAAF Vice-President, who is fighting against Sergey Bubka for the Presidential post, called the scientists “so-called scientists” and branded the allegations of widespread doping as a “declaration of war” on athletics.

In the open letter, Ashenden asked Coe whether the IAAF was pursuing its anti-doping mandate with the same single-minded, all-consuming dedication that athletes adopt in their pursuit of winning. Ashenden commented he does not believe that the IAAF has done a fair and commendable job after looking at the leaked database.

In December, Coe admitted that doping in sports as serious as those sparked by the Ben Johnson and BALCO doping scandals. The former London 2012 chairman had remarked then that allegations of systematic doping among Russian athletes had added to ghastly days for athletics. At this time, Coe had also remarked that he had no knowledge about a list of 150 athletes with suspicious blood test results referred to by ARD, the German broadcaster. The list, produced between 2006 and 2008 by an IAAF official, included the names of three British athletes including one household name considered to have suspicious blood values.

The Sunday Times added the winners of 34 major marathons around the world – one in four – during the period of 12 years should have faced investigation or censure due to their test results, with those athletes collecting more than £3million in prize money. The Sunday Times also reported that London Marathon was the worst affected with seven wins, six second places and seven third places out of 24 men’s and women’s races allegedly involving suspicious blood results.

Reacting to doping allegations, London Marathon chief executive Nick Bitel criticized the IAAF and remarked race organizers are very much concerned by claims made by ARD and the Sunday Times that seven winners in a 12-year period recorded suspicious blood scores. Bitel added we continue to be at the forefront of anti-doping measures for marathon runners as we are determined to make marathon running a safe haven from doping but we cannot do it all on our own and rely heavily on the IAAF.

Earlier this week, Liliya Shobukhova was stripped of her three Chicago Marathon titles and 2010 London Marathon win, with all her results from 2009 onwards annulled. In 2014, Shobukhova was banned because of irregularities in her biological passport. The ban on Shobukhova was extended after the IAAF made a successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. It was argued by the IAAF that her ban should be extended; the ban now lasts until March 23, 2016.

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Tuesday 29, Oct 2013

  Team Sport Athletes Less Likely To Use PEDs

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Team Sport Athletes Less Likely To Use PEDs

Scottish doping experts have remarked that athletes who are part of a team are less likely to get tempted to use performance enhancing drugs compared to those in individual sports.

The study was led by Dr Paul Dimeo, senior lecturer in sports policy at Stirling University, who investigated if the environment of team sports provided protection from the risk of doping when compared to individual sports’ athletes. This study is published just weeks after Scottish rugby player Sam Chalmers was banned for two years after he was found using anabolic steroids. This study compared the responses of 200 Scottish athletes competing in team, individual, and hybrid sports and was commissioned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

Dr Dimeo said it emerged that the team environment and the sense of belonging to a ‘team’ of some description protects athletes as they fear both the shame of being caught and banned as well as the likely social marginalization that would follow. He added that we also found that there was a perceived distinction between individual and team sports with regard to the pressures influencing athletes to dope, particularly in terms of the influence or otherwise of a coach.

Dr Dimeo added that there was a risk of Scottish athletes unknowingly taking banned performance enhancing drugs due to absence of education and knowledge. He remarked what we found from carrying out research is that many athletes are unaware of what they are taking into their bodies and added a lot of people think that anabolic steroids equal muscles and that’s the only banned substance, but there are several different ways to violate the WADA code like medicine used for asthma can sometimes be a problem. WADA President John Fahey said this study has been very insightful in offering explanations as to why athletes chose different paths.

In another development, Professor of ethics Julian Savulescu, from the University of Oxford, while debating whether athletes should be allowed to use performance enhancing drugs, remarked use of steroids should be regulated rather than imposing a ban. Savulescu said regulation can improve safety and added we should assess each substance on an individual basis and set enforceable, fair, and safe physiological limits. He went on to add that over time the rules of the sport have evolved and they must evolve as humans and their technology evolve and the rules begin to create more problems than they solve. Julian Savulescu added that it is time to rethink the absolute ban and instead to pick limits that are safe and enforceable.

However, hospital doctors Leon Creaney and Anna Vondy disagreed and remarked athletes who wanted to live a healthy existence would be pushed out altogether. They wrote that the argument against doping in sport is moral, not medical and if doping is allowed, the only competition that would matter would be the one to develop the most powerful drugs, and athletic opponents would enter into an exchange of ever escalating doses to stay ahead of each other. They also warned that we might see a return of the state sponsored doping programs of the 70s and 80s in some countries.

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Thursday 14, Mar 2013

  Tennis’s Biological Passport Idea Criticized By Anti-Doping Expert

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Tennis’s Biological Passport Idea Criticized By Anti-Doping Expert

Don Catlin, considered to be one of the founders of modern drug-testing and one of the sport’s most respected anti-doping experts, has issued a damning indictment of attempts by tennis to step up its drug testing program and questioned whether it has the money or the desire to make it work.

Last week, tennis officials announced that tennis is to adopt the athlete biological passport that effectively tests for the likely existence of drugs rather than for specific substances. Catlin remarked he would tell them not to bother and they are better off to increase the number of tests they do rather than spend it all on the passport. The anti-doping expert added that doubling or tripling urine tests would be of more value than starting a passport because you need such a long lead-in and you need data over four or five years. The man behind the renowned UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory believes the sport is reacting to pressure rather than tackling the big problems for the right reasons.

Now president and chief executive officer of Anti-Doping Research, a company in Los Angeles, Catlin added that it is always hard to be critical of someone when they’re trying to do something that’s worthwhile and tennis would have done better if it was able to start with the top 100 male players and then test them five times a year but tennis cannot afford to do that or does not want to.

The athlete biological passport creates individual blood profiles instead of testing for specific, performance enhancing drugs and a doping case may be opened if athletes deviate from set parameters over time. Tennis has already tested for erythropoietin through urine and human growth hormone through blood.

In signing up to the passport, the funding partners in the program: the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association, and four grand slam events, agreed to increase their contributions, lifting the overall budget to an estimated $3.5m. However, Catlin remarked he thought the budget was still way too low.

The International Tennis Federation defended the decision to adopt the passport in a statement and said the Anti-Doping Working Group has identified the introduction of biological passports as a key enhancement of the detection and deterrence of doping under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program and the implementation of the passport in accordance with Wada’s [the World Anti-Doping Agency] recommendations, including the required budget, is now being discussed by the four parties in the program.

Things will barely change unless tennis finds significantly more money to do enough tests, Catlin said and added tennis is way behind other sports, in my opinion and doping is never going to go away and there needs to be independent testing.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer applauded the announcement that tennis will introduce biological passports for players and urged the sport to make the ATP Tour “as clean as it possibly can be” with a broad approach. The 17-time grand slam winner Federer said he thinks tennis has done a good job of trying everything to be as clean as possible but we are entering a new era.

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Thursday 14, Feb 2013

  UCI And Anti-Doping Expert Clash Over Disgraced Cyclist

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UCI And Anti-Doping Expert Clash Over Disgraced Cyclist

The question of whether or not disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong doped during his comeback has sparked a dispute between the world governing body of cycling and anti-doping expert and Australian scientist, Michael Ashenden.

While Armstrong recently said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he did not use banned performance enhancing drugs during his comeback, the United States Anti-Doping Agency ruled there was a strong probability that he cheated during his comeback from 2009 to early 2011. Ashenden is very much convinced that the test values of Lance Armstrong showed he doped during the comeback and this has what led to several clashes in the media between the UCI, which is in damage control following the Armstrong scandal, and the anti-doping expert.

The Australian scientist served on the UCI panel that reviewed the biological passport data of professional riders, but resigned last year. In a media statement, Ashenden said McQuaid has been deceitful and deliberately misled the public and the media about the suspicious blood values of the banned cyclist during his comeback in 2009 and 2010 and added that the world governing body of cycling have been forced to admit that they never sent his suspicious blood values to their expert panel for the examination. Ashenden claimed doping exper

ts were only given nine of 38 blood tests provided by the Texan rider during his Tour de France comeback years of 2009 and 2010 and questioned why the world cycling body failed to pass on all tests.

Ashenden added that the world cycling body were derelict in their obligations to faithfully run the passport program if they fail to examine the raw data of Lance Armstrong when he placed third at the 2009 Tour de France. He went on to remark that the UCI was “biologically illiterate” if it had examined Armstrong’s test results from the 2009 Tour and did not see evidence of a possible blood transfusion. The UCI, on the other hand, claimed that it was Ashenden himself who cleared the blood profile of the banned cyclist before the 2009 Tour though it admits that the profile of the cyclist was never submitted to the expert panel for analysis after May 4, 2009 – two months before the Tour de France.

Ashenden does not understand the protocols of the testing process, the UCI remarked and added that his concerns are unfounded.

In another development, Hein Verbruggen, who was president of cycling’s governing body when the disgraced cyclist won his seven Tour de France titles, attacked WADA and denied he aided any cover-up of Armstrong’s doping. He added that there was simply nothing to cover-up as Armstrong, nor his teammates, never tested positive. Verbruggen, who ran the International Cycling Union (UCI) for 14 years and remains its honorary president, was deeply critical of WADA and anti-doping officials in the US and France for their failure to expose the cyclist during his career. The UCI honorary president brought forward his side of the story by delivering letters to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and 14 other Olympic executive board members by hand at the Lausanne Palace Hotel where they have been holding a meeting of two days.

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Saturday 17, Mar 2012

  Pitcher with unusual drug test suspended

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Dustin Richardson, the 26-year-old left-handed pitcher, has been suspended for 50 games, after he tested positive for five different drugs, a result that a spokesperson for Major League Baseball recognized was “unusual.”

“I’ve never seen a case like this, and we’re talking about 30 years I’ve been doing this kind of work,” said Don Catlin, an anti-doping expert and former director of the U.C.L.A. Olympic Analytical Laboratory.

“I’ve had doublets and triplets, but to have five, and have it cover three different subclasses of drugs, is unique, as far as I can tell,” Catlin added.

Monday 05, Sep 2011

  Testers will get hold of doping cheats

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Testers will get hold of doping cheatsOne of Australia’s premier anti-doping experts and the manager of the only World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Australia, Dr Catrin Goebel, concede that it will still be difficult to know if a gold medal-winning athlete at next year’s London Olympics could be tainted by drugs.

Goebel, however, remarked that she has no doubts they would eventually be caught, and that testing is now barely a step behind, if not in front, of the cheats.

”I honestly think if there was something these days that athletes were taking, I don’t think it would be that far away from us any longer,” she said.