As you may have noticed in my recent blogs, I am getting a bit worried about the level of injustice and inequality in elite sports. What surprises me more I that very few people who definitely should, take the effort (or is it the courage?) to stand up or speak out.
Still I try to increase the awareness of my colleagues (athletes, coaches, therapist, scientists) about the issues that I perceive as being unfair and slowly but surely more people start seeing this too. I am doing the job that this generation of athletes and coaches should be doing, but maybe they are still naïve, maybe they just not smart enough to see the obvious and understand that one day it might hit them.
Or they are short-sighted opportunists who think that somebody else will stand up and solve their problems, maybe they are afraid of repercussions, to lose support or lose their job when they speak out. Who will tell? It’s a though and stupid job, but I have no talent for giving up.
One of the things that nobody seems to care about is the competence of the doping testing labs in which we have to put our trust.
Here is a time line of lab suspensions and lost accreditations:
April 2004 Seoul -Korea
March 2009 Ankara-Turkey
March 2009 Penang-Malaysia
April 2010- Bogota -Colombia
May 2011 Tunis -Tunesia
May 2011 Ankara- Turkey
January 2012 Rio de Janeiro-Brazil
November 2912 Bangkok-Thailand
December 2012 Madrid-Spain
August 2013 Rio de Janeiro-Brazil
November 2013 Sotchi -Russia
November 2015 Moscow -Russia
February 2016 Rio de Janeiro-Brazil (third time)
April 2016 Beijing-China
April 2016 Lisbon-Portugal
May 2016 Bloemfontein-South Africa
June 2016 Madrid -Spain
I am sure that I would not board a plane from an airline, or get surgery in a hospital with this failure rate.
We know that the former GDR anti-doping labs were only used for preventive testing of their own athletes, not to detect doping use. The double-role of Manfred Hoeppner is well described. (1)
Even the “godfather of anti-dopingtests” from West Germany, Manfred Donike,a that time, had a double agenda as it now seems. (2)
The role of the US doping labs has also been called doubtful in this respect, and with a reason. Read the books and articles of Dr.Robert Voy or Dr.Wade Exum, who were in charge of USA doping testing.(3)
The doping lab in Rome has a terrible reputation, but seemed to have gotten away with it all the time.
Many doping samples there have disappeared into the sink, in 1998 and 2005, as revealed by judge Guariniello, especially the samples of soccer players. Or do you assume that a doping tester really would risk his/her job by doing this for free???
Also you wouldn’t bet your life on the doping lab in Lisbon, read the horror story of athlete Diane Modahl. (4)
In recent times we know the role of Gabriel Dolle, the IAAF-doctor in charge of testing, who too, money, a looooot of money, for making positive test results miraculously disappear.
This week IAAF medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier, got a no more than a symbolic reprimand.
These are only the failures that came to light, and I might even have neglected a case or two, but you get the drift: these doping labs, where the future of athletes can be decided, you can’t come to another conclusion than that they have to be managed by totally incompetent people, who even after two previous suspensions don’t seem to get the job done. This is one of the reason why in former days you A sample and you B sample were tested in different labs, but probably due to coming too many discrepancies to light now the A and B sample have to be tested in the same lab, so an error will still be an error, and nobody will notice.
Apart from being incompetent, which is easy to detect, some of them are corrupt as well, take the Rome doping lab and the labs in Sochi and Moscow . The Lausanne lab in Switzerland destroyed lab samples from Russia in conflict with the rules, and so on.
Yes, millions of taxpayers Euro’s or dollars have been wasted on incompetent anti-doping labs.
The level of science used to detect doping tests ranges from sloppy to pure alchemy . The testing procedures themselves as well as the statistical validation don’t match modern scientific standards. Fortunately is easy to impress the general public or sports politicians with these pimped results, and the exaggerated threat of a “doping epidemic”.
One of the rare responses to criticism on this could be found in a laboratory journal, Lab Times, which had the guts to notice and to report the disproportionate failures of the WADA testing labs. They found out that the head of WAADS , Peter van Eenoo, He wrote a malicious letter to the editor of the journal. Citation: (5)
“Ghent, October 8th, 2015 (…) In a recent issue of [Lab Times], a paper was published that we consider as a deliberate and unfair attack on WAADS, the World Anti-Doping Agency and one of our laboratories.
Your company is one of the companies (…) which has supplied us with instruments for many years. As you are an important sponsor of “Lab Times”, we want to inform you that we consider that the
article and behaviour of “Lab Times” reflects badly on your company.
We doubt that you would wish to endorse these practices.”
This is just a disguised form of blackmail, which shows us the level of integrity of these people.
But the editors of the journal finely remarked: Citation:
“Rather than attacking those who expose the facts, Mr van Eenoo, shouldn’t you be tackling WADA laboratories’ many shocking deficiencies instead?”
Do you think I am exaggerating? You can only hope that I got it all wrong and that you or your athletes will never become involved in a situation where you depend on the quality and integrity of doping labs. But as usual only time will tell.
Read the books or articles below to start with or better yet, just watch the news.
1 Steve Ungerleider: Faust’s Gold, Thomas Dunne Books, 2001.
2 Sueddeutsche Zeitung 8. August 2013: Studie “Doping in Deutschland” Kontrolleure sollen selbst manipuliert haben. (Researchproject “Doping in Germany”: dopingtesters themselves have manipulated testresults)
3 Robert Voy: Drugs, Sports and Politics; Leisure Press, 1991.
4 Diane Modahl : The Diane Modahl Story; Hodder Stoughton, UK, 1995.
5 Lab Times, Issue 6, November 2015, pg.3.