News

Doping Could Cast Shadow Over Upcoming Olympics Games

Multimedia

The International Olympic Committee, like most sporting associations, bans the use of performance enhancing drugs. The World Anti-Doping Agency says the drugs pose health risks to athletes and jeopardize the integrity of athletic competition. Still, allegations and revelations of doping among the world's best athletes persist, and the issue of doping could cast a shadow over the the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. Anti-doping officials say the rash of bad publicity is also a sign of progress. VOA's Brian Padden has the story, with additional reporting by Peter Heinlein in Addis Ababa, Kurt Achin in Seoul, and Mandy Clark in London. (Part 2 of 5)

Ethiopian distance runner and two-time Olympic gold medal winner Haile Gebrselassie says training at 3,000 meters above sea level gives him a natural advantage in competition. He also says using performance-enhancing drugs is cheating.

"It is always what I said. I can cheat you," he said. "I can cheat 1,000 of them. But how can I cheat myself?"

Yet some athletes have been cheating for years, using banned substances like steroids to get that winning edge.

Last year, U.S. Olympic track star Marion Jones admitted she had lied to investigators about using performance enhancing drugs. 

"As everyone can imagine, I'm very disappointed today," she said. She was stripped of her five Olympic medals from the 2000 Sydney games and sentenced to six months in jail.

While the negative publicity involving doping and top athletes can taint the Olympics, it also sends a message that the use of performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated.

"Every athlete out there, I truly believe, knows that it's wrong to cheat," says Travis Tygart, the head of the U.S. Anti Doping Agency.

The agency is supposed to insure a drug free playing field. It conducts 8,000 random tests a year on U.S. Olympics athletes to detect banned drugs like steroids that can build muscle but also lead to kidney disease and cancer. It provides guidance on which drugs are prohibited. And it punishes athletes who break the rules.

"In a typical steroid case, it is a two year suspension, disqualification of results for a first offense," said Tygart. "It can be up to life for a second offense."

Most countries now have programs to police and support Olympic athletes. South Korea's Olympic program encourages athletes to consult medical staff before taking medications, even herbal supplements.

Jang Sung-ho was the judo silver medal winner in the Athens Olympics. He says stories of past athletes losing their medals for inadvertently using banned substances have made today's Olympians cautious.
 
"A runner broke rules once by taking cold medicine got from pharmacy long time ago," he said. "Afterwards, all athletes always get medicines from pharmacies in the training center."

While increased education and enforcement have made cheating more difficult, it is still possible. Peter Sonksen, a professor of endocrinology at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, has advised the International Olympic Committee on doping. He says new drugs like human growth hormone are hard to detect. He says reliable tests have to be developed to keep sports free of drugs.

"I think the answer is a continuous battle against the cheats," said Sonksen. "It has been for twenty years. It will be for forever I think."

Anti-doping officials say most athletes welcome increased testing as a way to ensure the integrity of the Olympic games. 

 

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs