29% of surveyed athletes at 2011 World Championships admitted to doping
by on Friday, August 23, 2013  (4 comments)

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Not cool...but common?

I'm not sure what's more disturbing here.

I have two big problems here.

First, 29% of athletes at the 2011 World Championships admitted in an anonymous survey that they doped in the prior year. Only a fool wouldn't assume the number of athletes who actually did dope isn't higher. Not everyone who did is going to admit it, even if they are sure their responses are completely anonymous. That means likely at least 1 out of every 3 athletes who was surveyed actually did dope. Seeing as they could also choose to not answer the question, how many did make that choice not wanting to answer yes?

Second, this does not paint a good picture for either the IAAF or WADA. Why are they so intent on hiding this problem? The problem here is conflict of interest.

The IAAF is essentially in the business of promoting these athletes. If it becomes common knowledge that at least 1/3 of the athletes they are promoting is doping, what do you think that does to their business?

The WADA, on the other hand, is in the business of catching drug cheats. Seems like they should welcome any spotlight on the problem, right? Well, consider this. If less than 2% of drug tests performed at WADA labs are positive while somewhere beyond 30% of athletes are doping in any given year, what does that say about the efficacy of WADA?

I'd say this sport has a problem but let's be honest. All sports have a problem. Most either don't even pretend to try to deal with the problem or have just recently begun pretending. Even at the failure rate we see via this study, T&F is still worlds ahead of most other sports. That said, to say this sport is clean just because we're worlds ahead doesn't paint an accurate picture.

In my opinion, we shouldn't be burying our heads in the sand. We should accept reality and push to find a better future. Sadly, there is a lot of room for improvement but the two organizations in charge of pushing toward a better future seem more interested in not letting the full scope of the problem become publicly known than in accepting the current state of things and finding a better way to tackle this problem.

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4 comments
Ed

I take comfort in the fact that as my times improve and slowly make headway towards these cheaters - I know that I am and always will be clean.

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Ryan

I understand the feeling, Ed, and I could say the same thing. However, we have no comprehension of the pressures they face. This isn't to excuse these actions but it's easy for us to bypass those substances. We have no pressure to use them. What will we gain by using them? For the elites, this is their livelihood. If the option is use the substances and make a good living or don't use and live in poverty, it's a much more difficult decision and I, for one, will not pretend to know how I would respond to that situation.

I think, as much pressure as should be put on the athletes, even more should be put on the coaches, trainers and other support staff. I don't get why a coach who all the evidence suggests was involved in his athlete's cheating doesn't get a punishment at least as strict as his athlete. I would vote for an even more strict punishment.

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4gen/sf

5 reasons for drug use in sport:
Ego
Ego
Ego
Ego + Money
Ego + Money

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Andrew A.
4gen/sf: 5 reasons for drug use in sport:EgoEgoEgo Ego + MoneyEgo + Money


In many cases, it does simply boil down to unchecked ambition. Though it did not occur to me until after she had become known as a target in a doping scandal, the overall impression I am left with from looking at the website of someone I know says to me that she was/is very much attached to the pro athlete lifestyle and perhaps willing to go to great lengths to preserve that status quo. It is difficult to look at any given situation and understand well the factors that influence it from (well) outside the culture of that situation. One should consider the administration overseeing the situation (including its ability to do so) and the governance (rules + enforcement) applied to the situation.

Think about how people drive on the highway. Do they tend to drive at or below the speed limit if there is no known/believed police presence? Is there a tendency to 'go with the flow of traffic' rather than stick to the posted speed limit? What factors influence those kinds of decisions? It may not be exactly the same situations, yet it reveals a mentality and types of influences on decisions that are present in about any situation where standards and rules are either followed strictly, followed selectively, or wantonly ignored.

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