Olympic Competitors Facing Hi-Tech Drug Tests and Sedative Bans
Olympic competitors who plan to run the risk of taking performance-enhancing substances before or during the London Summer Olympics are facing “the most sophisticated anti-doping operation in the history of the Games.” A private sponsor will be aiding in the drug testing this year—a first in Olympics history—by providing facilities for scientists to conduct the testing. More than 6,250 samples of blood and urine will be tested (as compared to 4,500 samples tested inBeijing), with approximately 150 scientists running tests around the clock.
The list of banned substances runs to 10-15 pages. Even if the athletes are not caught now, they could be caught in the next 8 years, because samples can be re-analyzed. World Anti-Doping Agency Director General David Howman has stated: “The laboratory will have everything it could possibly need in terms of equipment. If athletes go toLondon, they know if they are cheating they are going to be caught.”
This policy appears to be working. Brazil’s watersports federation (CBWA) announced Wednesday, June 27, 2012, that Brazilian swimmer Glauber Silva has been withdrawn from the Olympic Games and banned for two years for failing a drug test. Silva tested positive for the banned steroid testosterone.
On Thursday, June 28, 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that wrestler Stephany Lee was dropped from theU.S. Olympic team after testing positive for a marijuana metabolite. Lee has been suspended for one year, and will be replaced by wrestler Ali Bernard.
Olympic officials are even cracking down on legal drug use during the London Games. Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief John Coates has stated thatAustralia’s athletes are banned from taking strong sedatives during the Games. Approximately 400 Australian athletes are heading toLondon, and all could have their rooms searched and face a punishment up to and including expulsion if they are found in breach of the ban, according to Coates. This ban comes after former Australian Olympic champion swimmer Grant Hackett publicly noted that he had become reliant upon a strong sedative, which he and his coach believe significantly impacted his performance in the Beijing Games. Coates noted that the AOC will also be highlighting advice with regard to the use of caffeine during the games. Said Coates: “We are very worried about the vicious cycle of athletes taking caffeine as a performance enhancer and then needing to take [sedatives] to get to sleep.”