FUTILITY AND HYPOCRISY IN SPORT DRUG TESTING
Max Jones, Birchfield Harriers, England, December, 2002
CONGRATULATIONS TO WADA
Congratulations to WADA on having had the courage to publish the Drafts of its proposed Anti-Doping Code, to invite all "stakeholders", howsoever defined, to comment thereon and then to publish all 500+ pages of the 135 replies. I believe that WADA's action is one of the best things to have happened in sport since the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1894. Its initiative could set in train benefits that could last well into the future.
However, it could also continue a trend that would see the elimination from the Olympic Games of excellent professional athletes in sports that have been central to the success of the Olympic Movement, namely Track and Field (Athletics) and Swimming. After years of rules and regulations being concocted, of which not one top performer in 1000 in those sports will have read, let alone understood the implications, most athletes have no idea how vulnerable they are to false positives decisions.
The remaining few of us who were present at the Opening Ceremony of the 1948 London Olympic Games will remember the then-new "electronic scoreboard". On it were written the stirring words of Baron de Coubertin "The Important Thing in the Olympic Games is not Winning but Taking Part. The Essential Thing in Life is not Conquering but Fighting Well". The first few words of it were put to a panel in a semi-humorous, probably semi-scripted BBC radio quiz show just this last month in a "complete the quotation" question. That the first contestant to answer, to roars of audience laughter, should say "Cheating" instead of "not Winning but Taking Part", strikes an extremely serious and worrying note of warning. It will be one thing for WADA to agree to a new Code with the insiders of the multimillion dollar Anti-Doping business. However, it will be a task of different proportions to persuade the spectating public and leaders of multinational corporations with marketing money that, in concert with all the interested parties, the Olympic Movement at last has its anti-doping act together. If that were true, it would be for the first time ever.
WHERE WE ARE COMING FROM?
Those of us who have observed the anti-doping scene from far and near and actually know something about it, have been brought up in an era when, within each Olympiad, the doping "problem" has been both "solved" and "out of control". Since the EPO-dominated Tour de France of 1998, we have been in the phase wherein, to quote from one of the documents that the IOC issued before its Lausanne Conference in February 1999, "doping is increasing at a terrifying rate".
That may be how the insiders see it, but it is not supported by the statistics. After a couple of years, 1997 and 1998, with an "enormous" [my sarcasm] 2% positive out of 100,000 drug tests, the proportion fell to 0.6% in Sydney 2000, to 1% overall in 2001. When those asthma sufferers using registered inhalers are excluded, the proportion fell further in both the Salt Lake City and Commonwealth Games.
However, there is a much simpler explanation for that IOC's 1999 assertion. It is based on a straight comparison between the 1997/98 figures and those of 1995/96 and earlier. It overlooked the introduction of the new high-resolution GC/MS urine analyser in IOC Testing Laboratories late in 1996. With sensitivity approximately 100 times greater than that of the pre-1996 test-analyzer, and over 90% of all drugs on the IOC list having a tolerance threshold of ZERO, the new apparatus should be seen as the cause of the huge rise in positives. Previously undetectable traces were now detectable and declared positive. It was more sensitive testing and not "doping increasing at a terrifying rate" that was responsible for the "epidemic".
"Crisis! What crisis?" A UK Prime Minister is alleged to have said this when the Sterling came under some slight pressure on the foreign currency exchanges in the mid-1970s. After having been involved in the doping-in-sport debate for the past 10 years as an observer, writer, coach and athlete [of international standing in a minor track and field discipline], I believe that the current "crisis", which appears to be how the Media sees it, is entirely of our own, insider-making. On the evidence, I contend the IOC [anti-]doping-in-sport policy is unscientific, invalid, unworkable, illogical, unjust, and illegal.
Dr Jacques Rogge, within days of being elected IOC President, said, "After Security, the fight against doping is our Number One Priority". When professional athletes have been polled on the matter, overwhelming numbers of them have always agreed with what is being done, in their names, by the Authorities. Since only five active athletes; one bobsledder, one weightlifter, two undeclared, and me, but not a single professional in Track and Field, Swimming or Cycling; were concerned enough about doping to write even a line in response to WADA's invitation, suggests that it is not a matter that really concerns any athlete at any level at any time in any year. Until, that is, they are asked to comment on whatever uncorroborated accusations are flying around or they draw the short straw of a false positive or a successful sabotage attempt. Then, for the victim, the incidence of doping is not 1% but 101%.
Above all, athletes are clean. However, because they do not know nearly enough about the details of the IOC's anti-doping policies and practices, they are bewildered and frightened when close, trusted friends are accused of being drug-cheats. We owe it to them and to Sport to get it right. If we fail to do this, innocent athletes will be forced out sport to preserve their own jobs and honour and we shall be to blame.
WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO DO?
Before I comment on D2, WADA's Second Draft, to allay any doubts that might creep into any reader's mindI declare first that, without qualification, I am utterly opposed to cheating in all its forms. I intend to work within the Olympic Movement to help eradicate cheating wherever I see it in Sport. In "cheating", I include all the little tricks that TV cameras or spectators in the Stadium may observe, but are performed out sight of officials or are quicker than the human eye may see. I do not include in cheating being injured or clinically unwell and receiving treatment from fully qualified physicians or pharmacists, that is, the valid therapeutic use of medications.
As my comments on D1 - #50689, if you're interested - still stand and are on record with the 134 others, I do not intend on this occasion to repeat any of those, but only to comment on three paragraphs, namely the first in the Introduction, PURPOSE, then the GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF DOPING and finally Article 1.1. Acceptance by Participants. I believe we can make no useful progress until those three are corrected. Until that is done, the remaining 38 pages of D2 are irrelevant.
In a longer-term context, I believe we should first understand and then agree what is trying to be achieved. To do that, we need to decide where it is we are going, that is, to determine the objectives, and then ensure that the paths to be taken, the means, make those objectives achievable.
D2 begins with the statement of an objective:
"To protect athletes' fundamental rights to participate in doping-free sport and thus to ensure fairness and equality for athletes worldwide".
No participant could disagree with the principle of this statement.
Let us not get bogged down in some academic, esoteric debate on how many different ways a million professional athletes might interpret the words "ensure fairness" and "equality" without arriving at a workable consensus. As we are engaged only in the construction of an Anti-Doping Code to last at least 10 years, let us concentrate on what is to be understood by the term "doping-free".
It is of crucial importance that the governors and governed agree consensually on the following:
For WADA, having opened the debate on its DIS policy, it is now too late to stuff the genie back into its bottle. By March 2003 in Gothenburg, enough top athletes will know enough about what is to be proposed to be able to defend themselves against a code that if it were to be a dressed-up copy of the IOC's Code, would claim the livelihoods of one in every 50 of them every year, for no valid reason.
The IOC has attempted this difficult task twice in the recent past, the first, unsuccessfully, in 1967 and the second in 1999. The latter, some believe, has created more problems than it solved.
Competitive professional cycling, especially the Tour de France 20-stage race, has long been regarded as a particularly onerous sport, inflicting such pain on riders and requiring such powers of endurance so far beyond that of "normal" sportsmen as to be seen almost as cruelty to humans. Riders have sought "aids" for 100 years and more.
The IOC was concerned when a Danish cyclist, Knud Jensen, died in the heat at the Rome Olympics in 1960, possibly because of amphetamine use. The sporting world was shocked when Tommy Simpson, twice the World Road Race champion, died in the Pyrenees in the 1967 Tour de France. To the surprise of nobody connected with professional stage-race cycling, traces of amphetamines were found in his pockets.
Possibly, in reaction to Simpson's death, later that year the IOC published its first Anti-Doping Code, listing 20 or so regular medications in just the two categories, Stimulants and Narcotics. It contained neither an objective description nor an agreed means of how or why they were included. As the first head of the IOC Medical Commission back in 1967, Arthur Porritt, wrote:
"To define doping is, if not impossible, at best extremely difficult, and yet every one who takes part in competitive sport or who administers it knows exactly what it means. The definition lies not in words but in integrity of character".
He got round the problems of creating workable definitions of anti-doping objectives and means by ignoring them. The first line of the first IOC Medical Code read simply
"1.1 Doping is forbidden. The IOC shall prepare a list of prohibited drugs".
On the latest IOC/WADA List, there are 160 banned substances, 21 more than this time last year, of which 154 are regular FDA-approved medications. One is cannabis and five are anabolic agents, such as testosterone and nandrolone, which are natural, endogenously produced hormones, as well as being drugs administered exogenously by physicians to patients for clinical purposes.
Twelve of the one hundred and sixty substances have thresholds stated, while for the remaining 148 it is "zero-tolerance". Hence, the sensitivity of today's urine analysis apparatus, of the order of 10,000 times greater than in 1967, is now by far the most important factor determining whether a result is or is not "positive".
THE LATEST ATTEMPT
In its First and Second Drafts which, very correctly and bravely, WADA has published, certain tenets about "doping" are held to be self-evident "truths". An introductory paragraph to D2, says [bullets are mine]:
Although Arthur Porritt and his colleagues wrestled with it in 1967, the drug problem has not gone away. Thirty-five years later, it is still haunting those of us who would seek how to translate "integrity of character" into a workable list of substances which should be banned or for which thresholds should be set. Athletes, coaches, and medical support personnel to whom it applies need to be able to understand and accept it as a workable, fair and just Anti-Doping Code.
I have to confess I find it impossible to comprehend how ingesting any food, drink, or substance that is legally on sale over the counter or which is a regulation dose of an FDA-approved medication prescribed by a fully qualified physician, can be classed as "doping" in accordance with any of the criteria listed in D2. Furthermore, if any such substance or medication is forbidden, surely that very act must be either an unlawful "restraint of trade" or an unwarranted intrusion into the practices of the Medical and Pharmaceutical professions.
THE PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT CRITERION
Considering the criteria listed as first and third bullet above, a number of problems immediately arise. Without labouring the point further, the "performance enhancement" criterion falls at the first hurdle because there is not a single, scientifically sound, peer-reviewed, published research article that links the ingestion of any one of the 154 regular but banned FDA-approved medications to performance improvements. [This is disputable for a few substances have been shown to be performance enhancing, but in large the situation is there is no evidence -ed.] Why not? One reason is that the IOC prohibits its accredited laboratories from carrying out such studies on elite athletes, that is, representatives of the population against whom the Anti-doping Code is applied [see 1999 Code, Ch X, App. B, Annex II, Code of Ethics item 2(c), quote, "only ... if appropriate sanctions will follow a positive case"].
Others are included in the write-in Q & A section of its web site set up after the 1999 Lausanne Conference, after it had had time to agree on an official answer, the IOC stated
In short, the near-100% certainty of conviction of drug-cheats evinced by the near-100% successful prosecution rate by International Federation and CAS tribunals is contradicted by the IOC's official position on the unlikelihood of its "performance enhancement" criterion ever being proven.
Indeed, another good reason for this criterion failing is that the IOC concedes the point itself, in effect, at the end of Article II in Chapter II of its 1999 Medical Code, it states:
"The success or failure of the use of a prohibited substance or method is not material. It is sufficient that the said substance or procedure was used or attempted for the infraction to be considered as consummated".
It has to be noted that not many DIS insiders seem to have read even that far into the 10-Chapter 1999 Code, let alone any sports journalists who are always banging on about "performance enhancing drugs" in often sensational and unsubstantiated manners.
THE "HARMFUL TO HEALTH" CRITERION
What about criterion #4 above, then, "either pose a risk [an "unnecessary risk" in D1] of harm to athletes"? This is different. It is the basis for the 1999 IOC code. Among the Q & A web site quotes just noted, the IOC claimed:
"Insofar as it always endangers athletes' health, "effective" doping does not exist".
Further, the IOC stated in the opening paragraphs to the Preamble to its 1999 code:
"WHEREAS the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement and, in particular, the Olympic Games;
"WHEREAS in furtherance of its Mission, the IOC, in close collaboration with the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, dedicates its efforts to ensuring that in sports the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned, leads the fight against doping in sport and takes measures, the goal of which is to prevent endangering the health of athletes". [Bold lettering is mine.]
That is fine, then? Certainly not. Firstly, officials and athletes alike must be mindful of John Stuart Mill's treatise On Liberty (1859) in which he wrote:
"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant".
Secondly, whether we as athletes wish to take the risk of endangering our "own good, either physical or moral," is our responsibility, not that of our parents, physicians, International Federations, and least of all, the IOC.
The IOC, etc, do not have the responsibility to warn participants of the hazards of overdosing, for that is a role for the Medical Professions. Their imposition of at least two years' suspension of our athletic activity for ingesting over-the-counter or prescribed medications for a diagnosed clinical need is unquestionably and absolutely wrong.
IN THE BEGINNING
Before moving on, consider how the IOC got into this ridiculous situation. Was it Tommy Simpson's death on the Ventoux in 1967, ascribed to heart failure caused by heat exhaustion? Was it Knud Jensen's death, which was attributed to sunstroke in the 100-km time-trial and in the intense heat of the Rome Olympics, which decided the IOC to act? Those two events are coincident with the IOC's abysmal foray into doping control.
Other organisations have taken different approaches to problems caused by very hot weather. The ACSM, the American College of Sports Medicine, advised 20 years ago that marathon races should not be scheduled to start at times that would expose large numbers of runners to the summer sun at its hottest. When I ran in the Honolulu race, it started at 5:30 AM, but this year the start was at 5:00 AM.
A complicating factor after the deaths of Jensen and Simpson was not only the link to amphetamines but also the growling by the anti-Soviet Union block through the 1960s that the IOC should "do something to stop 'the growing menace' of drugs in sport". That was code for "the Russians must be stopped from stealing medals which are traditionally and rightfully ours", because it was not possible for USSR athletes to be fitter and better technically than the clean-as-the-driven-snow USA and GBR college boys and girls [or that their steroids were more effective than our steroids]. Today, it is the Chinese swimmers and Russian endurance runners and skiers who are all on EPO. Things have not changed that much in 40 years.
Use of anabolic androgenic steroids then had been widespread and worldwide in Track and Field. Even so, a study by Harold Payne, Great Britain's hammer-throw record holder, multi-Olympian, and a noted anti-drug-cheat campaigner of the late 1960s, of the progress of the world's best performances over the years spanning the introduction of steroids, showed only a gradual improvement in the field events where their use was known to be most prevalent. It failed to reveal any significant correlation that could only have been due to the use of anabolic androgenic steroids.
Indeed, there is no medical reason why exogenously administered anabolic steroids should increase muscle mass. Exercise, growth hormone and testosterone are the three essential ingredients for building up and maintaining muscle bulk. Nandrolone decanoate, the steroid of choice of the '60s and '70s, was designed, not as a testosterone supplement, but for the treatment of osteoporosis, anaemia, and a negative nitrogen balance. Overdoses (its devotees were typically taking 10-20 times the stated dose), it is said, merely shut down natural testosterone production. One former Mr Universe, Steve Michalik, related recently that, after 10 years of overdosing on steroid cocktails, his blood testosterone level was that of a 12-year-old girl, his testicles were the size of cocktail peanuts and he had not managed to get an erection for two years. Small wonder that the British Medical Association has recorded for over 20 years in the British National Formulary, the doctors' prescribing bible, that:
"Their protein-building property led to the hope that they might be widely useful in medicine but this hope has not been realised. Their use as body builders and tonics is quite unjustified; they are abused by some athletes".
In brief, many people suffer from and some die from sunstroke or heat exhaustion every year, whether or not they are "on" amphetamines. It was impossible to tell with any certainty whether those Soviet performances in the 1960s, or of anyone else, were because of ingesting large quantities of steroids or merely after having done so. Today, injections of rHuGH are said to assist endurance racers. Things have not changed that much in 40 years. The unfounded accusations still exist.
With hindsight, it can be said that the IOC panicked after Simpson's death. It had been much criticised for choosing high-altitude Mexico City as the site for the 1968 Olympic Games, thereby exposing endurance athletes, competing with or without the aid of stimulants and narcotics, to possibly fatal consequences. The 3-day Eventers even went so far as to request that the equestrian events be moved to sea level for the sake of their horses! There is little doubt that Simpson's death precipitated the IOC into inaugurating its anti-doping campaign in 1968 at the Mexico City Games, after a trial run at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble.
The long distance runners, meanwhile, would have to cope with the rarefied air of Mexico City as best they could. The heart of the great Ron Clarke, the lowland-dwelling, long-time world record holder and favourite for the 10,000 meters run, stopped beating for a few anoxic, hypoglycaemic seconds after he had finished the race, out of the medals. He never broke another record or won a race of any consequence thereafter.
There was no time between the 1967 Tour de France and the Grenoble Olympics for the IOC to do any research on any one of the 20 stimulants and narcotics it had decided it must ban. Therefore, it went ahead with, fortunately, a relatively insensitive urine analysis apparatus and awaited results. All the 86 Grenoble tests and all but one of the 668 tests in Mexico were said to be negative, the one being above the 40mg/100ml limit for alcohol [!!] which the [West European!] athlete claimed was after "a couple of beers"! For what performance-enhancing or life-threatening reason were he and his biathlon team partner stripped of their bronze medals?
It is most unlikely that there was only one "positive" in over 750 tests in 1968, even bearing in mind that the IOC did not ban anabolic androgenic steroids until 1975. However, for the longer term, the importance of the two 1968 Olympic Games was that the IOC had been able to demonstrate that it was "doing something" about the "menace" of drugs in sport. With only one of all the probable positives declared, and that in a minor event, no outrage was raised on the sports pages of the popular press. Even better, the IOC would not have to spend millions of dollars it did not have to establish thresholds and maximum levels for athletes, by replicating work, which the pharmaceutical multinationals had done first time round on animal conscripts and human volunteers to gain FDA-approval to market these regular medications for restoring ill or injured people to health. The IOC could have asked the Medical Profession to help but it did not.
The pattern was set for the next 35 years. All the IOC has to do now is to get its labs to look for and report concentrations of metabolites of any regular drug it has worries about, see what the variations are over the course of a few years, decide whether to set some threshold value, and then add that one to its ever-expanding list. After it had escaped unscathed from the trials of 1968, the IOC was to ban another 134 regular, FDA-approved drugs, with over 90% of them having zero tolerance.
Up front, these life enhancing, potentially lifesaving drugs are banned because each one, the IOC insists, "always endangers athletes' health". Why does it see this need to take over responsibility for the "tender loving care" of elite athletes? Because, to quote its Q&A web page, "although it may be conceivable in practice to implement a sort of medical assistance for doping in sport, it is important to emphasize that it would still be impossible to control the medium- and long-term risks to the athlete". Strange, that, because I always thought that is [part of] what doctors do.
In essence, the health criterion is absurd and it is not the IOC's business anyhow.
THE SPIRIT OF SPORT CRITERION
Criterion #4, "or is otherwise contrary to the spirit of sport" is dubious at best. This is where the IOC and Arthur Porritt were, back in 1967, in no-man's land and with only "the definition lies not in words but in integrity of character" for company. This stance worked, sort of, when the urine analysis apparatus was rough, ready, insensitive, and only fired in anger once every four years. With no out-of-competition testing, random or targeted, only athletes whose coaches had miscalculated the drugs' washout times, those with blocked sinuses or other more serious illnesses or injuries, and victims of sabotage were convicted.
This approach was exposed in 1996 when the upgraded GC/MS apparatus was introduced. It is capable of detecting endogenous anabolic steroids and exogenously administered steroids down to <0.02ng/ml, that is, less than 0.000000002%, numbers so miniscule that scarcely anyone can imagine how tiny they are (2 parts in 100 billion or roughly equivalent to a gallon in Lake Superior). Product-labelling regulations typically require a producer to state the amount of an individual substance in a product only if the quantity of it exceeds one part in ten thousand. That is one hundred thousand (100,000) times the "legal limit" of 2ng/ml for nandrolone.
So it should have been no surprise when the IOC-accredited lab in Cologne reported in 2000 that:
"In tests on around 100 food supplements and on 16 occasions [it] found circumstances likely to lead to adverse nandrolone findings. The supplements tested, which were bought in Europe and in the USA, did not include nandrolone or related compounds among their listed ingredients" [Bold words are mine.]
A very senior IOC official, a former champion speed skater, described supplements as:
". . .wholly unnecessary. They don't help. They certainly give the opportunity for a positive sample. Why should so-called healthy athletes use this? We would like to caution the athletes of the world that recent findings show that such supplements may contain drugs which will cause the athlete to test positive".
Note, not "give the athlete an unfair advantage" or "may endanger the athlete's health" is mentioned, but "drugs which will cause the athlete to test positive" now drives the IOC's anti-doping policy.
Such is the state of shock in the Track and Field world over nandrolone that the response to this extraordinary outburst was to call on Governments "to tighten the labelling laws" and "to regulate the import, manufacture and distribution of prohibited drugs, including those in so-called health supplements". No one seemed to have asked the IOC if it could have got it wrong on this occasion, if indeed, "the Supreme Authority of the Olympic Movement" could ever err, and to explain why it refuses to recognise that nandrolone is a natural hormone that produces exactly the same metabolites as the exogenous steroid nandrolone decanoate, although in different proportions.
There is also one very worrying aspect of banning these original 20 and the subsequent 140 regular drugs. It is that by their very listing the IOC alerts coaches to the supposed performance enhancement "benefits" of newly developed drugs. The clinical near-certainty that the drugs will be not be supplements to these superbly fit athletes' own immune systems and stocks of naturally produced hormones, but substitutes for them, is irrelevant. Idiot coaches believe that the IOC must know what it is doing, and therefore, will seek supplies because of the belief "everyone else will be 'on' them".
Because the Medical Profession never sought to involve itself in what it saw as the IOC's business, the quality of black market supplies is sure to be unreliable at best and positively dangerous at worst. Clandestine drugs do not come with a 12-month guarantee, nor can a coach take them down to the local Public Analyst if there are doubts about their quality.
Therefore, the use of 154 drugs, developed at enormous cost to restore the health of ill or injured patients when prescribed by fully qualified physicians, inevitably became the abuse of those drugs when they did not work first, second, third, or nth time around. It is not when doctors prescribe these medications to patients and who happen also to be elite athletes that the "spirit of sport" is prostituted, but it is when their supply to ignorant coaches and athletes is taken over by criminals.
THE SUBSTANCE IN THE BODY CRITERION
Of the four criteria that D2 offers, only #2, "Doping includes the presence in an athlete's bodily specimen of any prohibited substance", is still up and running. In the absence of anything else since 1967, it had been the de facto criterion and became so de jure in 1999. The wording in the IOC Code has been successfully challenged only twice, by Harry Reynolds in 1992 and by Uta Pippig in 2000. Reynolds' award of $27.3M in costs, loss of earnings, and punitive damages was subsequently overturned by a 5-4 vote in the US Supreme Court. That in turn, though, was superseded by the 7-2 vote in professional golfer Casey Martin's favour in 2001, when the Court ruled that the USPGA's "law" did not take precedence over the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Pippig's appeal was upheld at a tribunal of the Deutscher Sport-Bund. Its President that day, a German Supreme Court judge, Eike Ullmann, ruled, "de facto there was a ban, but its existence has not been legally justified". He instructed the DLV, her National Federation, to strike her conviction entirely from its records, which was done.
This remaining criterion of WADA's proposed list has a lot going for it. It is the only one that can be measured objectively. The IOC has established a world network of at least 30 accredited laboratories, which currently conduct over 100,000 drug tests annually. Everything is in place for WADA to take over the torch that the IOC has carried in the past, but not without reservations.
For starters, it is patently ludicrous that the IOC never differentiated between the use of any of its "drugs" for clinical and medical purposes and their abuse in pursuit of some supposed sporting performance benefit. Acquaintances of mine have been banned for such diverse reasons as:
Two other outrageous cases were: one was confirmed as the victim of sabotage; and the other also claimed he was a sabotage victim. Both were banned for two years because of the strict liability responsibility as perversely decreed by the IOC.
Of late, IOC rules ban athletes for traces of nandrolone that has been recognized in scientific circles as being a naturally produced hormone since 1992.
In addition, why should one narcotic be banned (morphine), if the urine concentration exceeds 1m g/ml? That is low enough to prohibit using over-the-counter Kaolin, a morphine anti-diarrhoea mixture I have used for 55 years. Since I read the 1999 IOC Medical Code, I changed to Imodium. Another narcotic, codeine, is specified as permissible in the same edition. Further inconsistencies and contradictions exist. Why ban the left-hand and right-hand molecularly spiralled, chemically identical isomers of methamphetamine, when their effects are so different? The stimulant, caffeine, is acceptable, but only if your coffee isn't strong (below 12 m g/ml).
The reason for these and many more glaring anomalies is simple. The IOC had no choice but to ban everything it thought it should and then, in the absence of any proper scientific study, to impose a zero tolerance on virtually all of them.
ONLY ONE PROBLEM REMAINS
In short, the IOC got away with it. Until, that is, WADA sent out its Second Draft and included all the stakeholders' comments on the First Draft.
As a Track and Field athlete who would be mandated to be drug-tested if I were to break any more age-group world records, the comments of the President of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, were intriguing. Inter alia on D1, he wrote "in our view . . . the Code [is] . . . lacking in any enforceable legal basis ... it is not a draft that the IAAF would be prepared to accept" [my bold]. A dozen or so other contributors also questioned the legality of the D2 article that now reads:
"1.1 Acceptance by Participants. Athletes, including minors, and athlete support personnel are bound by Article 1 by virtue of their membership, or accreditation, or participation in sport or sports organizations".
WADA has added :
"[Comment: This article makes it clear that athletes need not sign any document in order to be bound by the Code. Participation in activities to which the Code applies is sufficient. This does not prevent signatories from obtaining direct confirmation of athletes' and athlete support personnel's acknowledgement of this acceptance, and thereby further educating them concerning the Code.]".
That shock was compounded by what the Chairman of the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency, David Howman, had to say. Also on his first page, barrister Howman wrote in his comments on Article 2 in D1 "Definition of Doping" that "Because this is the first mention of "parties", I also wonder whether that word is appropriate when this is a Code not an agreement" [my bold].
That had me scurrying to my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. It reads :
"agreement. n. Mutual understanding, covenant, treaty; (Law) contract legally binding on parties."
Suddenly, this is not the usual heat on the "doping" issue, but light. Do the words "party" and "agreement" mean something specific when used in a legal context? Does barrister Howman mean that WADA's proposed Code, by itself, has no basis in Law? If so, the IOC Medical Code had no legitimacy in its 35 years' existence.
If the answer to each of those three questions is "Yes", then it follows that the IOC is not going to get away with its amateur club's Executive Council attitude towards professional excellent athletes for much longer. For WADA's Code to be recognised as an "agreement", all "parties" [plural] to it must, "agree" to be bound by its provisions as it may affect them, both in principle and in detail, in writing, and be signed by those with authority to give such agreement.
For that assent to be valid, however, it cannot just be taken as given by default by the unilateral act of one party having decided to presume assent to the agreement by the other party, as the IOC did and WADA proposes to do. Before signing, all parties, free from undue pressure or deception or both, must have had the opportunity to learn about it and have demonstrated they understand what they are to agree to.
WADA's publishing of its two drafts will have postponed the introduction of its first Anti-Doping Code by a year while it and the international federations organise mass education and signing up sessions for upwards of a million professional athletes.
Making a virtue out of that impending necessity, if the WADA Code is to be any improvement on that of the IOC, then it would be far better to get it done right than to get it done quickly. There would be a much greater chance of athletes accepting the new Code if their representatives had had a seat, albeit only a temporary one, at WADA's Top Table.
WHAT IF THEY WON'T SIGN
We need to consider the consequences of continuing along the path as currently mapped. Unless there is a complete change of attitude towards professional athletes, assuming them to be "innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt" would be a start, large numbers of them, once they have been enlightened as to its content, will refuse to be bound by a Code about which previously they knew nothing and cared less. Pandora's Box is open, the genie is out of the bottle.
To avoid the disaster that the IAAF, FINA, UCI, FIFA, etc, would incur, when they would be deserted by their professional athlete members for the preservation of their jobs and their honour, the minimum that WADA should do now is as follows.
Therefore, it follows that there must be established, for every substance, a threshold level below which it is agreed that no doping offence will have been committed. The level should be high enough to permit fully qualified physicians to prescribe and pharmacists to recommend FDA-approved medications for therapeutic purposes.
"Working Parties, one for each prohibited class, should set limits for each substance which would differentiate between [below the lower for] legitimate medical use and [above the higher for] overdosing abuse. Representatives of medical professions, WADA, athletes, coaches, sports federations, the IOC, and major multinational sponsors would be included on them. . . .
Their work would lead to establishing, within a valid legal framework, an independent organisation mandated to issue to professional athletes official, regularly renewed "Licences of Fitness to Compete", which would be similar to Boxing's practice of many years but enlarged to embrace the anti-doping issue".
The number one priority of the Olympic Movement, should not be the negative action of imposing draconian "laws" to fight an enemy that once existed in a 20th Century mindset, but the positive action of appealing to young people to come into a vibrant movement to have fun, enjoy healthy living and, maybe, one day stand atop of an Olympic Games' podium.
Under construction at this time is WADA's Third Draft (D3). It starts with: "Each Signatory shall establish rules and procedures to ensure that all participants under the authority of the Signatory and its member organisations are informed of and agree to be bound by anti-doping rules in force of the relevant Anti-Doping Organisations." The repercussions of that statement could be huge; or the governing bodies could ignore its literal interpretation and claim that a "token effort", such as sending out circulars once a year, constitutes "informing". As well, they could assume athletes "agree" if they do not actively disagree. When D3 is presented in Gothenburg, Sweden, there are likely to be quite a variety of both positive and negative reactions to all the changes and "improvements" over D2.
Meanwhile, these aspects of doping control continue:
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