steroidsThis year is Olympic year so it’s more interesting than the previous years as far as doping is concerned.

Remember the canny seven Russian track and field athletes who resorted to urine swapping to pass drug tests?

The International Association of the Athletics Federation officials became suspicious when said women athletes were always present for unannounced random tests. The Russians were also very punctual, arriving at testing places even before the IAAF officials got there.

“There were no ‘no shows’,” one official told Reuters. “The Russians were always there.”

So the officials started storing the athletes’ samples. Further investigation revealed that the latest urine samples provided by the athletes did not match the DNA of the stored samples. The Russians were later suspended. The athletes include Tatyana Tomashova, the two-time world 1,500 meters champion; and Yelena Soboleva, the world indoor 1,500 meters champion.

And who wouldn’t remember the Greek athletes who figured prominently in this year’s doping list because of quite a handful of failed dope tests.

In March, eleven of the 14 members of the Greek weightlifting team tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone in out-of-competition testing in Athens. Then there was champion hurdler Fani Halkia, sprinter Dimitris Regas, and Anastasios Gousis who got banned for testing positive also for methyltrienolone. All Greek athletes were suspended for doping.

In Tour de France four riders, including the third finisher Bernhard Kohl, were suspended for testing positive for CERA, the new generation variant of the blood-boosting drug EPO

There was Marion Jones’ sprint in and out of jail for her use of performance-enhancing drugs and her involvement in a check fraud case. Jones began her six-month jail term March and was released September 5.

The NFL’s diuretic case also was in the news which involved several athletes who blamed the StarCaps weight-loss pill for their failed dope tests. Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of the Vikings were among the players who tested positive for the masking agent bumetanide.

The Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds anabolic steroids cases also dominated the sports scene in 2008 and are expected to remain in the headlines in 2009. The much-awaited Barry Bonds trial will commence March next year