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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora