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Intense drug screening at World Athletics Championships

Drug use among athletes has become a serious problem in any sport. Finland on the measures officials are taking to keep competition fair at the World Athletics Championships.

The difference between winning and losing in sports often is measured by the smallest of increments. Runners are timed to hundredths of a second, literally a blink of an eye means the difference in winning or losing a medal.

So it is no surprise athletes and their trainers look for ways to gain a competitive edge. But many have sought that edge through the use of performance enhancing drugs. That is why officials are conducting an intense screening program at the World Athletics Championships.

Nick Davies of the International Athletics Association of Federations told VOA Sports that his organization is fighting back against recent drug scandals involving well known athletes.

"We were able to react and say 'Look, this sport is facing this crisis period. We have got to do more.' Even though we believed that we were doing a lot as a sport," he says. "And we do. But that is just the nature of our sport, that people are looking at it as something which is connected with doping. So we have to do even more now."

By the time the tenth World Athletics Championships opened on Saturday in Helsinki, more than 350 of the 1,891 athletes competing had been tested for banned drugs. Officials plan to conduct another 500 tests by the closing ceremony on August 14. In all, about 45-percent of the athletes at the championships will be tested.