Friday, June 5, 2015

Facing up to doping in Sport

Paula Radcliffe PIC via her website.
It's been a grim week for many sports between the implosion at the top of FIFA and a BBC programme on 'micro-dosing' to cheat in sports. I try to keep this blog focused on positive and inspiring stories but the attraction between competitive sports and money can’t be avoided.

British marathoner Paula Radcliffe who has fought doping throughout her inspirational career (I reviewed her autobiography) was stunned to realise there is even more going on than she’d suspected.

While watching the programme on Wednesday evening  Radcliffe tweeted: “Very disturbing allegations tonight. Worrying that Blood Passport increasingly relied on by our sport apparently still has a long way to go”. And a few minutes later added: “Lots of issues needing further investigation thrown up. #cleansport #WADA”

400m champion Kelly Sotherton tweeted: “This @BBCPanorama has only just skimmed the surface. I hope its the start of something that helps towards #cleansport its not just Athletics”

And that’s the problem. It’s not just running. Sure, the Olympic sports attract deeper pockets because the rewards are so high but how many sports can put their hands up and say “We’re 100% clean”?

I studied for a distance diploma in Sports Nutrition when I was fighting. One of my essays was on doping, and I remember sadly concluding the more successful a fighter was the more likely there would be questions raised about doping.
German pole-vaulter Anna Battke takes a stand
Australian sports doctor Peter Lewis was interviewed on that for International Kickboxer magazine. He makes the valid point smaller sports don’t have the funds to investigate doping.

He said: “The implementation of effective drug testing requires independent funding and regulation. Up till now the state government authorities such as the Combat Sports Board, have not provided any funding. This has left it up to the individual promoters of events to pay for the cost of testing, so only the international title fights, where the sanctioning body rules mandate drug screening, have been tested.”

In Thailand much of the public focus has been more on drugging of opponents rather than revelations about doping for success (so far).

In December 17 year old champion Sangmanee Sor Tienpo was poisoned somehow in the boxing stadium and almost died.

This translation from Thai outlet Champ Boxing Magazine courtesy of Bloody Elbow blog is shocking:

“Sangmanee Sor. Tienpo's blood result, regarding his poisoning at the "Onesongchai" event on 1st of December, has been released. The doctors found a cocktail of 1.Nordazepam, 2.Temazepam, 3.Oxazepan, which are all Benzodiazepines and cause heavy sedation and in overdoses may even be lethal. Sangmanee collapsed after his main event fight versus Thanonchai Thor.Sangtiannoi and was rushed to the hospital.”
While the women’s fighting continues to attract smaller purses the pressure to dope will remain small. In spite of all the blogs and websites dedicated to women’s boxing I have yet to hear of doping in a systematic manner so hopefully that means it is still outside the sport.

Colour me cynical but how long that will remain so is another matter.

"Catch me if you can" from BBC's Panorama is available online here. You must be in the UK or using a programme like HOLA to make it seem as if you are to watch.

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