The fight against doping in sports feels like an unequal battle even at the best of times. Unfortunately, there is a pervasive sense that the cheats are always a few feet further down the track than the people trying to catch them. There is a sense that the impostors are hidden from us through medical technology, through the ubiquitous obscuration that characterizes many modern sports, and through walls of lies.
But in the fight against the impostors, all we have to believe in is the absolute impartiality and rigor of the drug-busters. We have to believe they are The Untouchables. We have to believe that they would not collude in any way with a cover. We have to believe that they would never look away if they discovered something wrong.
If we don’t believe that, if we even doubt it, then all is lost. If we believe that a drug testing agency or other body fears the harm done to the sport by exposing an athlete more than it fears the corruption of events, then all is lost. If we think that government bodies sometimes look the other way when they see it commercially viable to do so, then all is lost.
We must believe in the impartiality and rigor of drug fighters in the fight against cheats
It’s not like it never happened before. For example, in 2003, it was revealed that the all-conquering American sprinter, Carl Lewis, had failed three drug tests for stimulant drugs during the 1988 Olympic trials in the US. He should have been banned from the Seoul Olympics that year, but the results were obscured by the US Olympic Committee after it accepted its plea that he had innocently taken an herbal supplement.
That’s what happens when a testing agency or a governing body fears more about the harm a drug sense will do than the deception itself. Lewis is an example that has come to light. Who knows how many national heroes in other sports and other countries have received the same illegal benefits from organizations too afraid to expose them?
Organizations such as the UK Anti-Doping Organization, the US Anti-Doping Agency and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency must be the last strongholds of defense in the war against the corruption of sport by drug addicts and fraudsters. They are sports agents and enforcers. We have to believe that they are doing everything they can to catch the cheats. They must be above suspicion.
Organizations like UKAD or the Russian Anti-Doping Agency must be the last strongholds of defense in the fight against the corruption of the sport
If not, everything will be questioned. It makes it even more difficult for us to believe in what we see on the running track, cycling track or swimming pool. That’s why the idea of a drug addict tipping the governing body of a sport about an abnormal finding is anathema to us and anyone involved in the pursuit of clean sport.
And that is why the revelations in the UKAD and British Cycling revelation in this paper are so disturbing and why they have prompted an immediate response from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has announced its own investigation into UKAD by its independent Intelligence and Investigations Division .
The idea that UKAD British Cycling tipped off about an abnormal finding, where a UK rider’s urine sample from an out-of-competition test in late 2010 contained irregular levels of nandrolone, a banned anabolic steroid, rather than prosecuting the case itself, becomes more difficult questions, unfortunately, about the legitimacy of our Olympic achievements on the cycling track at successive Games going back more than a decade.
Questions have been raised about the legitimacy of our Olympic achievements on the cycling track dating back more than a decade
Those feats had been suspected earlier this month when Richard Freeman, British Cycling’s chief team doctor between 2009 and 2017, was found guilty at a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing over ordering banned testosterone ‘knowing or believing’ it was for a named rider was improving their performance.
These new revelations of pleasant collaboration between UKAD and British Cycling, and the agreement of a private testing scheme that seems to run counter to established rules at the time, cast an even darker shadow over Britain’s performance on the cycling track that is a source of national pride. at the Games in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro in particular.
The study’s findings also raise more troubling questions about the ‘win at all costs’ mentality that dominated Olympic sport during those years and has since been widely criticized.
In the run-up to the London Olympics in 2011 and 2012, 91 athletes from eight sports were involved in an experimental study with ketones.
Looking the other way seems to have become something of a theme, something that has also been highlighted by an earlier study by The Mail on Sunday into the use of controversial ketones at the time.
In 2011 and 2012, in the run-up to the London Olympics, 91 athletes from eight sports – including cycling – were involved in a mysterious and experimental study using ketones (an energy source derived from fat stored in the liver) in the desire to gain a competitive advantage. Athletes were told to sign nondisclosure agreements and a waiver that relieved British sport of any responsibility in the event of anti-doping complications.
So again, British Cycling has more questions to answer. And that includes UKAD. Nobody wants British performance on Olympic velodromes to be compromised. No one wants their memories of golden nights to be tainted. But just looking the other way would be much worse. Because then everything is lost.