Category Archives: drug testing

Why Sport’s Zero-Tolerance Stance on Performance-Enhancing Drugs is Wrong

Anti-doping has become an arbitrary process, so why not change the rules? By Julian Savulescu –

Julian Savulescu (born 22 December 1963) is an Australian philosopher and bioethicist. He is Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Monash University, and Head of the Melbourne–Oxford Stem Cell Collaboration, which is devoted to examining the ethical implications of cloning and embryonic stem cell research.

The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

Cheating is wrong. Winning by cheating is fraud.

In 1913, Eugene Christophe cheated in the Tour de France. A race vehicle crashed into him, causing his front forks to snap. Instead of repairing them by himself, he cheated by having a small boy pump the bellows for him while he melded them in the local blacksmith’s fire. He broke the rule of the time that dictated the cyclist himself had to repair his own bike.

Of course, today that is not cheating at all. When Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) was thrown into a fence by a media car during the 2011 Tour de France, his team was able to replace his broken bike. He carried on, bandaged up by race medics as he went. And this year, when Chris Froome was the victim of a race motorbike driving too close in crowded conditions, he went up to the line of current rules by running with his bike while a replacement could not reach him. He went onto win the overall race again, of course.

The values behind the original rule were reasonable: pitting one man and his machine against another, limiting the effect of wealth in providing mechanics and replacement bikes, and so on. And as every weekend warrior knows the faster the bike, the more it punctures and cracks. There is a tactical trade-off to be made.

But there is nothing wrong with the rules today either. They limit the extent to which mechanicals and incompetent race vehicles decide the race, and focus the result on the rider himself in his struggle to be the best. Those are also reasonable values, and ones which many would agree are fairer for the athlete, and more interesting for the spectator.

So why do we cling to our zero-tolerance rule for performance-enhancing drugs?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) claims that this rule embodies the spirit of sport, which it expresses as a list of values:

• Ethics, fair play and honesty

• Health

• Excellence in performance

• Character and education

• Fun and joy

• Teamwork

• Dedication and commitment

• Respect for rules and laws

• Respect for self and other participants

• Courage

• Community and solidarity

But instead, the rule has led to intrusive and prurient invasion into athletes’ bodies and lives, with humiliating testing protocols and leaked medical data. It has led to widespread mistrust and scapegoating: when the rules on meldonium changed at the beginning of the year, Maria Sharapova was infamously caught out for using it, but WADA allowed an amnesty for lower doses after 172 athletes tested positive for the drug.

Rules are frequently enforced patchily because applying them systematically and thoroughly would be unaffordable. One estimate put the figure at $30,000-40,000 AUD ($22,440-29,920) per athlete per year. Testing labs have often appeared incompetent, with Rio, Beijing and Doha labs all recently suspended. Recent reports into Russia proved what we all knew: that there is no level playing field in testing worldwide. Some athletes know they will not be caught by their agency, others take the wrong over-the-counter supplement and get pilloried.

I have argued for a new set of rules, based on a new set of values. Those values are athlete safety, and maintenance of the human test. By this I mean that we should ban substances that are risky to athletes, and which mean that the resulting performance significantly loses its human element. This might depend on the sport: a beta blocker might be inappropriate for an archery competition where nerves of steel are part of the test but fine for a weightlifter who gets a little nervous in large crowds. It might also limit the extent of doping rather than the type. If a cyclist improves his blood values by altitude training or by the drug EPO, the outcome is the same, as long as it does not go too far (beyond normal physiological limits) and become dangerous or super-human. We could then focus our limited resources on values that matter.

The rules of sport are designed to protect the athlete and to build a structure within which we can have some confidence of a deserving winner, whose talents in a certain area have been tested against the others.

They will always be somewhat arbitrary: on December 31 2015, when Sharapova took her meldonium, it was legal. The next day it was not. Australian modern pentathlete Alex Watson was banned for taking caffeine, whereas Chris Hoy brought his own coffee machine to the London Olympics.

But if we created an independent body, with a smaller, tighter remit to prevent doping that went beyond the natural physiological limits, or otherwise risked athletes’ health, we would be providing athletes with a framework they can build on instead of a martyrs’ pyre.

Julian Savulescu is uehiro chair in practical ethics, University of Oxford.

Which Russian athletes can compete at Rio 2016?

The following is the list of sports and athletes that can and can not compete at Rio Olympics 2016.

Some sport organizations are still pending decisions and decision should be given shortly to Russian Athletes.

Aquatics (swimming, diving & water polo)

Russians hoping to compete: 67

Decision: Some Russians have been banned, with further rulings to follow.

On Thursday, Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev, who had been banned after being implicated in the Richard McLaren report on state-run doping in Russia, were cleared to compete in the Games.

The appeals of Yulia Efimova, a London bronze medallist, and Daria Ustinova were still pending.


Russians competing: Three

Decision: Russians can compete.

World Archery said the three Russians have been “tested extensively” and had no previous doping convictions. It expressed “shock and concern” over recent allegations but praised the IOC’s “courageous decision” not to give Russia a “blanket ban”.


Russians competing: None.

Decision: All of the 68 Russian athletes have already been banned, though long jumper Darya Klishina has been cleared to compete as a “neutral”.

Yuliya Stepanova, the 800m runner whose evidence helped expose the Russian doping scandal, will not be allowed to do the same, however. The IAAF had previously cleared her to compete, but the IOC’s latest ruling disallows any athlete with a previous doping ban.

Stepanova has since questioned that ruling, describing it as “unfair”.


Russians competing: Four

Decision: Russians can compete.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has included four Russian players in the draws for Rio, “pending the validation of the International Olympic Committee”.


Russians competing: 11

Decision: All boxers cleared

Governing body the AIBA reviewed each case and cleared each boxer on Thursday, 4 August and that decision was ratified by the IOC.

Canoeing and kayaking

Russians competing: 18

Decision: Most Russians can compete.

Eighteen Russians remain eligible after the International Canoe Federation “immediately suspended” five of the 23 qualified, as they were named in the McLaren report, pending further investigation.

ICF general secretary Simon Toulson said it was a “bitter blow for the Olympic movement,” but that “swift action” was needed to show “that if you step out of line you won’t make the start line”.


Russians competing: 11

Decision: Some Russians can compete.

Governing body the UCI says 11 of Russia’s 17 athletes have been cleared to compete, with three withdrawn by the Russian Olympic Committee and another three implicated in the McLaren report into state-sponsored doping.


Russians competing: Five

Decision: Russians can compete.

Governing body the FEI says there is “no indication of any organised doping malpractices within the Russian equestrian delegation”. It adds there is “absolutely no reason why the Russian equestrian athletes should not compete at Rio”.


Russians competing: 16

Decision: Russians can compete.

Fencing’s governing body the FIE cleared all 16 Russians to compete, saying it had “re-examined the results from 197 tests taken by Russian athletes in 35 countries, including Russia, between 2014 and 2016”, which were all negative.


Russians competing: One

Decision: Cleared

On Thursday, 4 August, the IOC panel confirmed the eligibility of Maria Verchenova to compete.


Russians competing: 21

Decision: None yet.

The International Gymnastics Federation previously said it was opposed to a blanket ban, and on Monday said it would establish a “pool of eligible Russian athletes” as soon as possible.


Russians competing: 14

Decision: Russians can compete.

The International Handball Federation took “immediate action” to re-test Russian athletes following the IOC’s ruling and found “all results are negative”.


Russians competing: 11

Decision: Russians can compete.

The International Judo Federation, whose honorary president is Russian President Vladimir Putin, has cleared all Russians to compete, with president Marius Vizer saying they had been tested from last September to May “on many occasions, at many international judo events, abroad from Russia”.

Modern pentathlon

Russians competing: Three

Decision: Most Russians can compete.

One of the four qualifying Russians, plus a reserve, have been banned by the governing body UIPM, after being implicated in the McLaren report’s ‘Disappearing Positive Methology’ scheme. The remaining three have been cleared to compete.


Russians competing: Six

Decision: Russians can compete.

Russia’s initial squad of 28 has been reduced following 22 suspensions. Fisa said the latest banned athletes were “not considered to have participated in doping” but did not meet the IOC’s criteria of having been tested in labs outside of Russia.


Russians competing: Seven

Decision: Russians can compete.

World Sailing initially suspended Pavel Sozykin but cleared him to compete alongside his other six team-mates.


Russians competing: 18

Decision: Russians can compete.

An ISSF statement said all 18 Russian shooters are eligible having not been mentioned in the McLaren report, nor tested positive through further doping controls. The governing body added that “all Russian athletes are being carefully monitored” by its intelligence-based testing programme.

Table tennis

Russians competing: Three

Decision: Russians can compete.

“An investigation which included an individual test analysis of each player, conducted outside the Russian anti-doping system met the necessary requirements,” said the International Table Tennis Federation.


Russians competing: Three

Decision: None yet.


Russians competing: Eight

Decision: Russians can compete.

The International Tennis Federation said the nominated Russians have been tested 205 times between them since 2014, adding that is “sufficient” for them to go to Rio.


Russians competing: Six

Decision: Russians can compete.

Volleyball (and Beach Volleyball)

Russians competing: 30

Decision: Russians can compete.

Governing body the FIVB said it had “conducted a full examination of the Olympic eligibility” of all Russian volleyball and beach volleyball players and had now submitted them all to Cas and the IOC for approval.

It had earlier said Russian athletes had been tested at the same level as all other countries and the majority of the testing analysis of Russian athletes had been conducted outside Russia.


Russians competing: None

Decision: All eight Russian weightlifters have been banned from the Games.

The International Weightlifting Federation confirmed that two had been banned for doping violations, and another four were named in the McLaren report into doping.


Russians competing: 16

Decision: One Russian banned.

United World Wrestling appointed a “special commission with the mandate to review the doping cases related to the Russian wrestlers currently qualified to compete for the Rio Games”.

On returning its findings, the governing body said Viktor Lebedev, who returned a positive doping test at the 2006 Junior World Championships, will be banned from competing.

Doping in English Premier League

A British doctor March Bonar has been secretly filmed describing how he prescribed banned performance-enhancing drugs to 150 elite sportsmen, including Premier League footballers.

The following sportsman are supposed to be on the list of doped athletes.

Leicester City:

  • Riyad Mahrez
  • N’Golo Kanté
  • Shinji Okazaki
  • Danny Drinkwater


  • Danny Welbeck
  • Gabriel Paulista

Chelsea FC:

  • Bertrand Traoré
  • Willian
  • Diego Costa

Tottenham Hotspur:

  • Dele Alli
  • Toby Alderweireld
  • Érik Lamela

Off course all football clubs denied any allegations made by Daniel Ainsworth on twitter.

Arsenal said they were “extremely disappointed” by the publication of the claims, “which are without foundation”.

Chelsea said the claims were “false and entirely without foundation” while leaders Leicester also denied them.

Chelsea added they have “never used the services of Dr Bonar and have no knowledge or record of any of our players having been treated by him or using his services”.

Leicester denied the allegations and added: “We are extremely disappointed that The Sunday Times has published unsubstantiated allegations referring to players from clubs including Leicester City when, on its own admission, it has insufficient evidence to support the claims.”

Championship side Birmingham City said: “The club have not used the services of Mark Bonar and has no knowledge or record of any of our players, past or present, doing so.”

The only thing we can say is: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

Doping in football

Maria Sharapova failed test because of meldonium

Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and the world’s highest-paid female athlete, announced Monday that she had tested positive for the recently banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open.

Sharapova, said she started taking the substance in 2006 for magnesium deficiency and irregular EKG results, while also citing a family history of diabetes.

“It made me healthy, that’s why I continued to take it,” she said.

The World Anti-Doping Agency discovered early in 2015 that an alarming number of athletes were using meldonium, a sign that athletes could be misusing a drug for non-medical purposes. Given the substance’s performance-enhancing effects, WADA added meldonium to its watch list of performance-enhancing drugs for 2015. The organization subsequently decided to ban it as of Jan. 1, 2016.

Maria Sharapova

Meldonium is not FDA approved and is therefore not available in the United States. It is mainly used in Russia and Eastern European countries.

Mildronate is the leading agent of the cardiovascular group, antiischemic agent of a metabolic action:

  • Acts as antiischemic cell protector in patients with angina pectoris, chronic heart failure, brain circulation disorders
  • Improves physical capacity and mental function in the case of ischemia and in healthy people

Meldonium also helps increase an athlete’s endurance, protects against stress, improves an athlete’s recovery time after exercise and enhances certain activations of central nervous system functions. That means meldonium can be used to enhance performance.

Japan is considering introducing an anti-doping law as the country gears up for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Hiroshi Hase, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, said a law against doping was “necessary legislation” as Japan seeks to curb drug abuse by athletes at the Tokyo Games.

“Japan needs to introduce measures dedicated to anti-doping such as educating the public and athletes,” Hase told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

“And we need to be able to deal with the issue based on law,” he said.

His comments come after the IAAF, track and field’s world governing body, voted to suspend Russia’s athletics federation in November, following the publication of a World Anti-Doping Agency report that alleged “state-sponsored” drug use.

“We need to increase the integrity of sport by cooperating with the International Olympic Committee. Doping is absolutely wrong,” Hase said.

According to Jiji Press, the ministry will soon set up a panel to discuss details of the legislation, such as penalties.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Cops Fighting Mandatory Drug Tests – Describing the policy as “an illegal search and seizure.”

In an unprecedented protest against the routine offenses against due process and bodily integrity carried out in the name of the “war on drugs,” the union representing Pittsburgh police officers has condemned workplace drug and alcohol testing as a violation of the Constitution. Their zeal for the right to privacy only applies to themselves, however, not to the public they supposedly serve.

NBC affiliate WPXI reports that the Pittsburgh Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police “has filed a civil rights grievance against the city, claiming officers have been order to undergo drug and alcohol testing that is in violation of their contract.” Union attorney Bryan Campbell describes the policy as “an illegal search and seizure.”

Under the contract between the City of Pittsburgh and its paramilitary affiliate, police officers can be subjected to drug or alcohol tests only in three circumstances: When an officer displays signs of impairment on the job, fires a weapon, or is involved in a vehicle crash. The union’s complaint arises from a recent pursuit that ended in a car crash. Two officers who participated in the chase but were not directly involved in the crash were required to undergo testing.

Another blatantly obvious reason for police opposing public scrutiny of their urine is that it could reveal the usage of such things as anabolic steroids. Police officers are no stranger to ‘Vitamin S’ as many of them have not only been caught using the rage-inducing hormones, but selling them as well.

All I can say is: Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

Pitsburgh Police

Arsene Wenger believes doping is common in football

We were writing about UEFA lying about doping in football, Arsene Wenger, current manager of Arsenal, agrees with us.

Arsène Wenger has again voiced his concern that it is a serious issue in football, saying in an interview with L’Equipe that he has “played against many teams” that use performance-enhancing drugs.

In September his Arsenal side lost 2-1 at Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League, with the Dinamo midfielder Arijan Ademi, who played the full 90 minutes, failing a drug test after the game. “When I saw that the players of Zagreb were doped – well, when you don’t play at your best and your opponent is doped, it is difficult,” he said last month.

Arsene Wenger

“I try to be faithful to the values that I believe to be important in life and to pass them on to others,” Wenger told L’Equipe. “In 30 years as a manager I’ve never had my players injected to make them better. I never gave them any product that would help enhance their performance. I’m proud of that. I’ve played against many teams that weren’t in that frame of mind.

“For me, the beauty of sport is that everyone wants to win, but there will only be one winner. We have reached an era in which we glorify the winner, without looking at the means or the method. And 10 years later we realize the guy was a cheat. And during that time, the one that came second suffered. He didn’t get recognition. And, with all that’s been said about them, they can be very unhappy.”

Two years ago Wenger said that sport was “full of legends who are in fact cheats” as he called on Uefa to improve its drug testing programme. “Honestly, I don’t think we do enough [on doping tests],” he said. “It is very difficult for me to believe that you have 740 players at the World Cup and you come out with zero problems. Mathematically, that happens every time. But statistically, even for social drugs, it looks like we would do better to go deeper.

“I hope England is immune from doping but I don’t know. When you have a doping control at Uefa [matches], they do not take blood, they take only urine. I have asked many times in Geneva [for that to be changed]. I hope we do not have a big problem with doping but we have to try to find out.”

Wenger was embroiled in a doping controversy of his own in 2011, when the former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson told the French magazine So Foot that “on the night before big games we would go to a Holiday Inn in Islington where a yellowy product was injected into our arm. I never asked any questions. From the moment you trust a manager you take everything he asks you to.”

At the time an Arsenal spokesman said the substance was a “simple multivitamin injection”, while Wenger angrily denied the story, saying: “If you find one player who I asked to take an injection to play one game, no matter how big the game was, I would resign tomorrow morning.”

Performance enhancers and smart drugs in e-sports

I just found an interesting article about: Performance enhancers and smart drugs in e-sports by guest poster Toni Gibea on Philosophy Faculty, University of Oxford website.

A short excerpt about the article:

What happened this year when ESL made a decision based merely on press reactions and fans’ opinions showed us that a serious and professional discussion on the use of Adderall and other smart drugs in e-sport competitions is needed now more than ever. And if we add to this the fact that: all of the arguments raised against the use of Adderall in e-sports are questionable; for some statements (like the risk professional e-sport players take if they use Adderall) we don’t have sufficient empirical evidence; and that in some e-sport competitions, because of the nature of the game, Adderall could have no decisive influence to the outcome of the competition; we might say that ESL decision was made without carefully thinking through the relevant ethics.

ESL leads anti-PED initiative for esports with the support of NADA

ESL Logo

Is UEFA lying about the doping in football?

A study revealed 7.7 per cent of 879 players tested returned high testosterone levels – but European football’s governing body – UEFA says there’s no widespread problem.

Uefa has denied the use of performance-enhancing drugs is widespread in professional football, on the back of a commissioned study that suggests otherwise.

Europe’s governing body responded to results from a study that reportedly revealed 7.7 per cent of 879 players tested returned high testosterone levels.

The use of anabolic steroids has been suggested by media outlets throughout Europe but Uefa released a statement insisting performance-enhancing drugs are not prevalent in the game.

“Further to media reports this evening, Uefa would like to clarify a number of points regarding the report that it commissioned and contributed to, which was published earlier this month,” Saturday’s statement read.

“This study does not present any scientific evidence of potential doping in football especially due to the presence of confounding factors, the lack of standardisation procedures among the 12 laboratories, and the quantification of steroid profiles when the samples were collected.

“Furthermore, there was an inability to perform a second analysis [B sample] as required now by the WADA international standards for laboratories.

“The study simply shows that the introduction of steroidal biological passport in football would be beneficial by offering further analysis possibilities in case of atypical test results.

“Uefa has had a very thorough anti-doping programme for many years with over 2,000 tests a year and only two occurrence of positive tests, both for recreational drugs, which proves that doping in football is extremely rare.

“Uefa has now implemented a new steroid profiling programme which has come into operation at the start of the 2015/16 season.

“The programme will boost the already strong deterrent effect of Uefa’s testing programme, as it will help better detect the effects of doping over time, thereby complementing existing direct anti-doping testing.”

Soccer-UEFA-commissioned doping study reveals many conspicuous results-ARD

PS: You can also check out our previous post about history of doping in football.


Method actor Ben Foster admits taking steroids while filming Lance Armstrong biopic

Ben Foster did anabolic steroids in his preparations to play the disgraced cyclist in the upcoming film The Program.

The film is based on Walsh’s book “Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong”.

Ben Foster’s take on Armstrong, who declined his request for a meeting, is complicated. “On one hand, he’s a lying doper who tricked the world. On the other, he’s a young man who faced cancer. It changes you. And when you go to war it changes you. That’s what Lance Armstrong did – he went to war with his body. That shifts your consciousness.

“He started training within a culture that was doping: you’d have to go down 18 riders to find a clean one. He survives death, the story catches fire and he recognises that.

“He’s a smart man. He says, ‘I can do some good with this.’ He raised half a billion for cancer research. We just don’t like him because he was Jesus Christ on a bicycle. We’re mad he came back from the dead, saved the sick and then turned out to be full of shit. And we’re punishing him because he didn’t apologise in the way we’d like. Americans love a good apology. He wouldn’t do that.”

A cautious admiration emerges when Foster discusses Armstrong. “Belief and will got him through, not dope,” he insists. “Dope certainly helped. Had he not been doping he wouldn’t have won. But his greatest attribute is his ability to believe he’s a winner.”

He makes the connection to his own profession before I can. “That righteousness, that self-belief, could be considered akin to acting. The best acting. It’s not lying, it’s belief.”

Ben Foster on playing Lance Armstrong in The Guardian.

Lance Armstrong vs Ben Foster