Other Sports

The dope on doping in sports

India is sending its largest contingent till date to the Summer Olympics to be held at Rio de Janeiro between August 5 and 21. But the cheer is now muted >as two athletes have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and run the risk of being banned.

India is not alone. Until recently, speculations were rife that that >Russia could be barred from contesting sports events, considering its notorious doping record. But the International Olympic Committee >ruled out a blanket ban and left the decision on individual athletes' participation with their sports federations.

Here is a quick FAQ on the issue.

What are performance-enhancing drugs?

Performance-enhancing drugs, or PED, are substances used to improve performance in any form of activity. They usually work by causing the body to build more muscles or by limiting muscle fatigue. They are mostly Anabolic Steroids, synthetic versions of the male hormone Testosterone. There are also non-steroidal PEDs. A common example is Ibuprofen, a painkiller that can be bought without a prescription at medical stores. It limits the inflammation associated with physical exercise.

Who decides if a drug is PED or not?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) monitors doping in all kinds of competitive sports. Created in 1991, WADA is an independent international agency funded by sports organisations and associated countries. It monitors doping in sport based on the World Anti-Doping Code.

At the national-level, there is the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), an independent body under Union Ministry of Sports.

What is WADA Code?

The WADA Code or simply the Code is a document aiming to harmonise anti-doping regulations in all sports and across countries. It has been adopted by over 600 sports organisations. The Code works on five aspects:

Prohibited List: The WADA periodically updates its list of Prohibited Substances and Methods. This includes steroids, anabolic agents, stimulants, and gene doping. Some components such as narcotics are permanently banned. Some, like alcohol, are banned only in-competition. Click >here to read/download the full list.

Testing and investigations: The Code has prescribed International Standard for Testing and Investigations. It has laid out elaborate procedures to notify athletes, collect samples, conduct tests, and investigate a possible failure to comply these rules. The Code has set 10 anti-doping rule violations (ADRV). Violation of one or more of these rules entertains investigation.

1. Presence of a prohibited substance in an athlete’s sample

2. Use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or method

3. Refusing to submit to sample collection after being notified

4. Failure to file athlete whereabouts information & missed tests

5. Tampering with any part of the doping control process

6. Possession of a prohibited substance or method

7. Trafficking a prohibited substance or method

8. Administering or attempting to administer a prohibited substance or method to an athlete

9. Complicity in an ADRV

10. Prohibited association with sanctioned Athlete Support Personnel

Laboratories: The WADA doesn't directly conduct tests. It gives accreditation to laboratories which adheres to the mandatory International Standard for Laboratories. The Code also elaborately lays down rules on how to collect samples and conduct tests, besides keeping the investigation confidential. The laboratory cannot test commercial products and certify them, without WADA's approval.

Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs): The Code also has provision to provide or seek exemption for certain drugs, if they are used for treating acute or chronic medical condition and if no other alternative option is available for treatment. The use of such drugs should not produce any additional enhancement of performance.

Protection of Privacy and Personal Information: This part of Code deals with the confidentiality clause. The personal information processed in connection with anti-doping activities is protected in adherence to international privacy laws.

When will an athlete be tested?

Any sportsperson competing in national or international events can be asked to give his/her blood and/or urine samples at any point of time by anti-doping agency or sports events committee during the event. Testing can be conducted in-competition and out-of-competition. Usually athletes who bag the finishing positions are tested. In addition, agency can randomly test any accredited athlete, even when not participating in an event.

What is the punishment, if found guilty?

Sanctions for violating anti-doping regulations may range from a reprimand to a life-time ban, according to WADA. The period of ban may vary depending on the type of anti-doping violation, the circumstances of an individual case, the substance, and the possible repetition of an anti-doping rule violation. The decision to strip the medal, however, lies with the sports organisation.

Can the athlete appeal?

The athlete is entitled for a fair hearing and appeal on any decision regarding a positive test or sanction imposed for an anti-doping rule violation. The athlete can also request a re-test — B sample analysis.

What about nutrients or dietary supplements?

There is no blanket ban on using dietary supplements or nutrients. But there has been several instances of dietary supplements containing prohibited substances but are not declared by the manufacturer. WADA does not accept this as an adequate defence and hence the onus is on the athletes to choose their supplements.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 6:50:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/all-you-need-to-know-about-doping-in-sports/article14511264.ece

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