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Thursday 28, Aug 2008

  The paradox of steroid testing

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If we’re to consider public opinions, we’ll see that no matter what anti-doping officials are able to achieve in their quest to minimize, or ideally to completely eradicate doping, in sports there will always be the skeptics and the cynics to deal with. This is to say that there will be sectors that view the Olympics as a sport spectacle speckled with doped-up athletes.

Since the Beijing Olympics officially wrapped up just a few days ago and as the grandiose venues begin to collect dust, there is the customary review of the events that transpired on the latest Summer Games and one of which is anti-doping programs that have been implemented.

There are those that say the small number of athletes who tested positive for steroids and other performance boosters might signify that many others were able to skirt detection. Of the 4,500 tests conducted in Beijing, only six were caught committing doping violations. Still, others are of opinion that the more doping busts is equal to more skepticism about the cleanliness of the Olympics.

According to the Sportingo article, the idea that only a few but high profile scandals have unfairly tainted the Olympics might not be completely true. It says there are many doping incidents that continually happen in diverse sports. However, since these incidents involved less known athletes they are not given widespread media coverage. Such incidents do happen “on a regular basis” and the “numerous bans of more obscure athletes only serve to re-confirm the public perceptions of the pervasive nature of steroids in Olympics and in sport.”

To further illustrate the point, the article provides this paragraph:

“Hungarian weightlifting silver medalist Ferenc Gyurkovics and Puerto Rican wrestler Mabel Fonseca were expelled from the games today after testing positive for steroids, the International Olympic Committee said. Gyurkovics, 24, tested positive for oxandrolone, the IOC said. He competed in the 105kg class and set an Olympic record by lifting 195kg in the snatch on Tuesday, but finished second to Dmitri Berestov of Russia in the overall totals. Gyurkovics was stripped of his medal by the IOC executive board. Ukraine’s Igor Razoronov will now get the silver, with Russia’s Gleb Pisarevskiy moving up to bronze. Fonseca, 32, tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.

Ukrainian Razonorov was later tested positive for nandrolone and became the sixth and last athlete to be expelled from the 2008 Olympics.

The numerous bans being issued also contribute to public’s awareness that games are tainted and steroid use is an “open secret” amongst Olympic athletes, trainers and coaches.

They train together, and share the same burden of pressure to gain a competitive edge. How many are using is unclear, but there is certainly no doubt that all athletes are conscious and aware of who is using or from whom they can get anabolic supplements or a steroid program for enhancing performance and building muscle. It is surely as simple as “asking around.”

Additionally, there is also the prevalence of systematic doping, i.e., use of performance enhancers are no longer exclusively practiced by “a single Olympic competitor… (steroid use) pervades an entire Olympic team, such as the example of the Polish weightlifting team in 2004.”

Five members of the Polish weightlifting team were disqualified from joining the Athens Olympics because they tested positive for banned substances.

This … is an example of how not only individuals but entire teams can be on steroid programs, and even sponsored by the state. This example is presented to establish that the cynicism in public perceptions of steroid use among Olympic athletes is completely founded.

Also, one may have noticed that there are many different kinds of steroids, and the fact is that as of now there may be no limit on the amount of steroids that exist, from those that have not been deemed performance-enhancing as of yet, through those that are designed to mask detection, to the ones that are already on the list of banned substances, a continuously and rapidly growing that officially numbers in the hundreds.

Monday 25, Aug 2008

  Marion Jones on prison relay because of steroids

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Marion Jones steroidsThis could be a calculated move on the part of federal authorities. As the 2008 Olympics was preparing to wrap up in Beijing former American track superstar Marion Jones is being relayed from one cage to another.

Remember that on July this year, the disgraced athlete has appealed to President George Bush to commute her six-month prison sentence for lying to prosecutors about her steroid use. Apparently, she did not get her wish granted.

The Belizean-born Jones shone in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 easily dominating the track and winning five medals there. She has been since disqualified and stripped of the medals, three of which were gold. She has also been disqualified at the IAAF World Cup in Athletics that took place in Madrid, Spain in 2002. The competition’s results were annulled where Jones participated in the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay, finishing 1st and 2nd respectively.

AP reports:

Former U.S. track star Marion Jones has been moved from a federal prison in Fort Worth and will serve the remainder of her sentence in San Antonio.

The disgraced Olympic star was sentenced to six months in prison in January for lying to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs and a check-fraud scam.
Jones also was ordered to do 400 hours of community service in each of the two years following her release.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley says Jones was transferred to a community corrections center in San Antonio on Tuesday.

The Dallas Morning News reported Friday the transfer is part of the process toward the Sept. 5 scheduled release of Jones. She entered prison in early March.
President Bush has not acted on requests, on behalf of Jones, to commute her sentence.

For years, Jones denied using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. However, in October 2007, she pleaded guilty to two charges of perjury and was subsequently sentenced in January by a federal court in New York.

She admitted she had lied to investigators in 2003 when she denied knowing that she took the banned compound tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), known as “the clear,” before participating at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Wednesday 06, Aug 2008

  IOC officially disqualifies US relay team due to steroid and PEDs use

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sydney-olympics-steroidsThe disqualification of the United States 1,600-meter relay team comes four years after the team’s victory at that Olympic event in Sydney. The International Olympic Committee officially issued the disqualification on Saturday after Antonio Pettigrew, a member of the said team, publicly admitted steroids and PEDs.

The entire team is required to give back its gold medals to the United State Olympic Committee which will be turned over to the IOC offices in Switzerland.

The New York Times reports:

The International Olympic Committee officially disqualified on Saturday sprinter Antonio Pettigrew and his entire United States 1,600-meter relay team from the 2000 Sydney Games because Pettigrew admitted using performance-enhancing drugs at those Olympics.

Pettigrew, who never failed a drug test, admitted in May to using the blood booster EPO and human growth hormone before, during and after the 2000 Olympics. He returned his medal in June.

His teammates — Michael Johnson, Angelo Taylor, Jerome Young and the twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison — will also lose their medals. Johnson, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in individual events, voluntarily gave up his relay gold medal in July.

“We fully support the action taken today by the I.O.C.,” Darryl Seibel, spokesman for the U.S.O.C, said. “Athletes must understand that if they make the choice to cheat, there will be consequences and those consequences can be severe.”

At a news conference on Saturday, Giselle Davies, spokeswoman for the I.OC., said the board would wait on that decision, so they could see if any more information comes out of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids case.

Some of Pettigrew’s teammates have already been swept up in doping scandals of their own.

Alvin and Calvin Harrison have both served suspensions from the sport for violating doping rules. Young was barred for life.

Antonio Pettigrew’s admission took place when he was subpoenaed to testify in the trial of his former coach Trevor Graham in May this year. Graham was subsequently found guilty of lying to federal investigators during their investigation stemming from the BALCO Affair.

In his testimony, Pettigrew admitted that he had used steroids and PEDs as far back as 1997.

His statements surprised many, including his co-winner Michael Johnson, since he was never tested positive for any banned compound.

Johnson had given up his gold medal right after Pettigrew’s testimony. He said he felt ‘betrayed’ with Pettigrew’s admission.

Pettigrew has been retired from the track since 2002.