Semenya to gain London 2012 800m title after CAS uphold disqualification of Russian winner

South Africa’s Caster Semenya should now be officially confirmed as a double Olympic and triple world 800 metres champion after Russian rival Mariya Farnisova’s disqualification was upheld following an unsuccessful appeal. From Inside the Games

Kenya and Ethiopia identified as among countries most likely to dope as IAAF introduce new regulations

Kenya and Ethiopia head a list of nations categorised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as being the most at risk of doping after new regulations which put more responsibility on National Federations to deal with the problem were approved by the Council. From Inside the Games

The Athlete’s Voice: An Athlete’s Call for Anti-Doping Reform

Lauryn Williams is one of a handful of athletes to compete in both a summer and winter Olympic Games winning a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in the 100m as well as a silver medal at 2014 Olympic Games in the bobsled. Below is her first hand account of the burden clean athletes face.

By Lauryn Williams

Ever had your privacy invaded? Ever felt like you were being treated as guilty until proven innocent? Both of these statements apply to drug testing, and it sucks.

If you are a man, imagine that you are a woman.

Lauryn Williams, USATF
Lauryn Williams, courtesy of her Wikipedia page.

If you are woman… just keep reading.

Envision you are an Olympic athlete in an anti-doping program. It is 6:00am, and you are awakened by the doorbell. Startled but then alert, you shuffle toward the door. It is a doping control officer who quickly notifies you that you have been selected for drug testing. The good news is you just woke up and you have not yet been to the bathroom. Consequently, your bladder is full. It’s an inconvenient process, but this particular morning should be quick and easy.

You select a cup from the options the doping officer provides and head to the bathroom with your female chaperone. She has to watch you provide the sample.

Up goes your nighty and down goes your undies. Mother of God, there it is. Your period has started! You look up at the chaperone embarrassed. Giving you a sympathetic look, she still does not look away. She cannot.  After all – it is her job to watch you. You suck it up and pee in the cup. You fumble around to take care of your sanitary needs. Then, head to a different room so your sample can be processed. Sitting quietly at the table, you try not to notice the red streaks in your urine.

Having to be so intimate with a complete stranger at 6:00am is enough to make you wonder, “Is it really all worth it?” Your privacy has been invaded, and you are guilty until your test result proves you innocent, but this part of what it takes to show the world you’re clean. And the truth is, this entire process is worth it to clean athletes if the system does its job of catching those who choose to cheat.

But the FACT is: the system is failing us. The system currently incentivizes cheating by offering monetary rewards with no strings attached; it should want it to incentivize WINNING CLEAN. It should want to make sure that all countries adhere to high same standard we are held to in America. Currently, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) doesn’t have proper governance or resources to do this.

On Friday, McLaren report Part II was published, and the results were, as expected, quite depressing. Mr. McLaren is the lead investigator charged with revealing the details of the Russian doping scandal, a conspiracy that has rocked Olympic sports worldwide.

According to the McLaren report, Russian officials orchestrated the doping and cover-up of more than 1,000 athletes over a 4-year period. Samples were swapped or tampered with to avoid positive tests. The officials and athletes that participated in these vile acts of personal immorality have stolen moments, recognition and money from clean athletes that participated in (at least) the 2012 Olympic games in London, 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, and the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.

More surprising to me, the IOC allowed Russian athletes to compete in Rio, knowing full well that Russia had been operating a state-supported doping system – one that was robbing clean athletes around the world.  The common poison between the Russian infrastructure that promoted doping and the IOC’s handling of these doping violations is their shared blatant disregard for clean athletes. This is the broken system that has failed us. This is why WADA needs completely independent governance from major sports organizations such as the IOC.

Those of us who choose to play true need to know we are not alone.  We need to know that the system will not fail us or forget us. We need to know samples will be tested and retested decades later as technology improves, and that protocol will be put in place to try to reimburse us for the moments, recognition and money lost at the hands of cheaters.

It doesn’t take much to realize that the bootleg, after-the-fact ceremonies for the MANY athletes that will soon be awarded their medals retroactively will never replace what could have been. Who wants to receive their Olympic gold medal almost a decade late in a food court, like shot putter Adam Nelson? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars have athletes lost because they chose to compete clean? Or perhaps even more poignantly, with samples being thrown out after 10 years just how many how many other Adam Nelson’s are there out there that we will never know about?

International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Federations (IFs) across the world, we need to you to act on behalf of clean athletes worldwide. The information has been handed over to you. Clean athletes are counting on you to do what is in their best interest. Where should you start? How about this:

– Ensure WADA independent governance from the IOC and IFs so it can carry out its work without conflicts of interest.

– It would be nice if WADA be given the authority and capacity to investigate all instances of World Anti-Doping Code violations and to impose appropriate consequences for non-compliance.

-And last but NOT least we need you to move the upcoming competitions scheduled to be held in Russia.

To the bobsledders, skeleton athletes, biathletes and cross country skiers being asked to step foot on Russian soil to compete in the next few months, my heart goes out to you. What a convoluted message it sends to back you into a corner where you must choose to give up an opportunity to compete on an international stage or compete in a place where state-sponsored crimes against you have been committed. If I was still bobsledding, I certainly would not be joining you for World Championships this year. It is a shame if those in a position of power to move these competitions do not act to do so.

I encourage athletes and athlete advisory councils worldwide to SPEAK UP!!! We can’t count on anyone to speak on our behalf. If we can’t find it within ourselves to muster the courage and make our voices heard now, we may never again be presented with such an opportunity. The time is now…

The Athlete’s Voice is a forum for Track & Field athletes to share their stories on a wide range of topics. Please contact the TFAA to share your experiences today.

About the TFAA
The Track & Field Athletes Association (TFAA) is a 501(c)(4) organization formed to support the rights and interests of professional track & field athletes. We are the Athlete’s Voice.

Five Things Everyone Should Know about Doping in Sport

By Track & Field Athletes Association

Doping and the fight to eliminate it from sport seems to cycle in and out of the news. Unless you’re an expert in the subject, it’s hard to understand the current challenges facing clean athletes. To catch you up to speed, we’ve highlighted some of the most common ways dopers have beaten WADA, how WADA has adapted and what flaws remain.  In this article you will learn about:

  1. Managing Half-Lives
  2. Microdosing
  3. Designer Drugs
  4. Disappearing Positives
  5. The McLaren Report(s)

Disappearing positives and the findings of the McLaren Report cover the most recent scandal involving Russia’s government supported doping programs.  

#1 What is “managing half-lives” methodology?

Just like the food we eat, drugs have a shelf life too known as a half-life. A half-life is the time it takes for a specific amount of a substance to fall to half of its original value. In context of PEDs, dopers need to know how long it takes for a substance to break down in the body to a point when it is no longer detectable by testing methods. They would use this information to determine when they would stop taking a banned substance. In some countries, athletes would not be allowed to travel to the competition until they tested clean.

WADA implemented out-of-competition testing, a 10-year statute of limitations to retroactively test samples, and whereabouts forms to combat this issue.

FLAW:  Not all countries are compliant with WADA code, nor do all countries have their own independent anti-doping associations (ADA). As a result, doped athletes are often warned when drug-testers enter the country or the region, providing ample time to take appropriate countermeasures.

#2 What is “microdosing”?

Dopers realized that WADAs out-of-competition, random testing and missed test policies made the “managing half-lives” method mostly obsolete. They also realized that a little bit of doping goes a long way. So instead, the dopers began taking the smallest amounts of a PED that could yield performance enhancing benefits over the course of a training period while still at a low enough level as to make them impossible to detect.

WADA recognized that current testing may not be sensitive enough to detect well-designed microdosing programs, but WADAs researchers knew that new advancements in testing would allow tests to detect smaller and smaller amounts of banned substances. There is now a 10-year statute of limitations.

FLAW:  Like almost all aspects of doping control efforts, it’s reactive. Retroactive testing is proving effective at detecting doping, as more than 100 athletes have now received retroactive bans. However, the clean athlete recognizes an emotional and financial loss that’s difficult, if not impossible, to offset. Medal exchanges replace medal ceremonies.  And many sponsors now include a clause that does not allow for upgrades of bonuses in the event of a retroactive drug test changing a past result.

#3 What are “Designer Drugs”?

Designer drugs made national headlines around 2002 and 2003 when it was revealed that high profile athletes were working with the Bay Area Lab Company (Balco). Through relatively simple changes to chemical structures of well-known PEDs, scientists were able to create new drugs as part of cocktail that would allow athletes to compete doped without worrying about testing positive. According to well-known, anti-doping expert Dr. Don Caitlin, there are more than 2,000 variations of a steroid molecule that could yield desirable, performance enhancing benefits.  

Designer drugs aren’t limited to hormone manipulation – like steroids, growth hormone and other pro hormones. There are drugs to manipulate red blood cells such as EPO and drugs that manipulate the genes that determine how much and what type of muscle fiber you develop. Put another way, steroids build a bigger and stronger engines. New types of designer drugs build bigger and more efficient spark plugs, fuel lines and exhaust systems to turbo charge that engine.

WADA began working with pharma and biotech companies to identify specific compounds that may be used for performance enhancing benefits in the future. In addition, they implemented the biological passports to create profiles of athletes.  

FLAW:  The code used to be based on the principle that any substance – whether officially listed on the banned substance list or not – that went against the spirit of clean sport was banned. Cheating athletes can hide behind the excuse that “it wasn’t on the banned substance list.” Doping control will need to find a way to engage athletes, coaches and others to incentivize whistle blowing on newly developed designer drugs.  

#4 What is the “Disappearing Positive Methodology”?

Disappearing Positive Methodology (DPM) is a term coined by Richard McLaren, author of the recently published McLaren reports that detail Russia institutionalized doping plan. This program referred all positive tests found by the Moscow laboratory to the Russian deputy minister for sport along with the athlete’s name. The minister of sport would then “save” the sample or “quarantine” it. Saved athletes would continue to compete.  Quarantined athletes would be processed through the regular laboratory analytical process.

WADA has a system checks and balances that should minimize the risk of institutionalized corruption.  

FLAW:  WADA failed on multiple levels to react quickly or effectively.  

#5 What is the McLaren Report?

WADA commissioned Professor Richard McLaren to establish:

  1. Whether there has been manipulation of the doping control process during the Sochi Games, including but not limited to, acts of tampering with samples within the Sochi Laboratory.
  2. Identify the modus operandi and those involved in such manipulation.
  3. Identify any athlete that might have benefitted from those alleged manipulations to conceal positive doping tests.
  4. Identify if this modus operandi was also happening within Moscow Laboratory outside the period of the Sochi Games.
  5. Determine other evidence or information held by Grigory Rodchenkov.

Key Findings of the first Report:

  1. The Moscow Laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a State-dictated failsafe system, described in the report as the Disappearing Positive Methodology.
  2. The Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games.
  3. The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete’s analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories.

Key Findings of the Second Report

Institutionalized Doping Conspiracy and Cover-Up

  1. An institutional conspiracy existed across summer and winter sports athletes who participated with Russian officials within the Ministry of Sport and its infrastructure, such as the RUSADA, CSP and the Moscow Laboratory, along with the FSB for the purposes of manipulating doping controls. The summer and winter sports athletes were not acting individually but within an organized infrastructure as documented in the Report.
  2. This systematic and centralized cover-up and manipulation of the doping control process evolved and was refined over the course of its use at the London 2012 Summer Games, University Games 2013, Moscow IAAF World Championships 2013 and the Winter Games in Sochi 2014. The evolution of the infrastructure was also spawned in response to WADA regulatory changes and surprise interventions.
  3. The swapping of Russian athletes’ urine samples further confirmed in this Report as occurring at Sochi, did not stop at the close of the Winter Olympics. The sample swapping technique used at Sochi became a regular monthly practice of the Moscow Laboratory in dealing with elite summer and winter athletes. Further DNA and salt testing confirms the technique, while others relied on Disappearing Positive Methodology (DPM).
  4. The key findings of the 1st Report remain unchanged. The forensic testing, which is based on immutable facts, is conclusive. The evidence does not depend on verbal testimony to draw a conclusion. Rather, it tests the physical evidence and a conclusion is drawn from those results. The results of the forensic and laboratory analysis initiated by the IP establish that the conspiracy was perpetrated between 2011 and 2015.

The Athlete Part of Conspiracy and Cover Up

  1. More than 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter and Paralympic sport, can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive doping tests. Based on the information reported to International Federations through the IP to WADA there are 600 (84%) summer athletes and 95 (16%) winter athletes.

London Summer Olympic Games

  1. Fifteen Russian athlete medal winners were identified out of the 78 on the London Washout Lists. Ten of these athletes have now had their medals stripped.

IAAF Moscow World Championships

  1. Following the 2013 IAAF Moscow World Championships, 4 athletics athletes’ samples were swapped. Additional target testing is in progress.

Sochi Winter Olympic Games

  1. Sample swapping is established by 2 female ice hockey players’ samples with male DNA.
  2. Tampering with original sample established by 2 [sport] athletes, winners of four Sochi Olympic Gold medals and a female Silver medal winner in [sport] with physiologically impossible salt readings.
  3. Twelve medal winning athletes (including the above 3) from 44 examined samples had scratches and marks on the inside of the caps of their B sample bottles, indicating tampering.
  4. Six winners of 21 Paralympic medals are found to have had their urine samples tampered with at Sochi.

About the TFAA
The Track & Field Athletes Association (TFAA) is a 501(c)(4) organization formed to support the rights and interests of professional track & field athletes. We are the Athlete’s Voice.

There’s nothing Political about Doping

This is an opinion written by Adam Nelson.  Adam is one of now a handful of athletes to be retroactively awarded a gold medal due to a positive drug test.  

Before you throw a pit party for poor Yulia Efimova, you should look at this through eyes of clean athletes.  All Olympic athletes subject themselves to the most invasive anti-doping program on the planet.  It’s a virtual prison, which requires you to report your every move and record EVERY supplement or medication you take.  Then, you must guarantee an hour of every day that you will be available for submission of urine or blood.  And when you do provide a urine sample, you will do so with someone watching you pee.  I don’t mean someone in the same room with you while you pee.  I mean someone has to watch the urine leave your body.

Clean athletes subject themselves to this violation of privacy to participate in the Olympic Games.  Every athlete is supposed to be held to the same standard, subjected to the same testing protocols, tested on a regular basis.   Clean athletes do this to protect the integrity of their respective performances.  We have to trust this system with our most personal details and we do so without ANY independent representation in the system or ability influence the system at all.  The system grows more invasive with each passing year, because dopers keep getting more creative with their hidden bladders, managing half lifes, and avoidance maneuvers.

But the system only detects the symptoms of the problem.  It relies on cheating to take place and, then, on its ability to detect the cheating.  It’s inefficient.  It’s flawed.  And those flaws often cost clean athletes the relevant moments, those moments that make the four years of blood, sweat and tears known as the Olympic struggle worth it personally and professionally.  NOTHING can retroactively replace those relevant moments.

So every once in a while an athlete looks at the system and says this really sucks.  They realize they are competing against someone who has cheated – not once – but twice, and received a reduced sentence without any athletes sitting on the board that makes those decisions.  The athletes input should matter more than anyone else, because only the athlete bears the burden of a cheaters mistakes.  Yet, here we are – at the Olympic Games or a World Championship – at a national team event that’s based on these amazing principles of good sportsmanship and competition, but this person, who has repeatedly tested positive, hasn’t experienced the same struggle that clean athletes have experienced to get here.  Her path was made artificially easier and the system has rewarded her with another opportunity to compete against Lily King and the other clean athletes – those who uphold the Olympic spirit.  Boy, that’s a tough pill to swallow.  It’s not poor sportsmanship to call a convicted drug cheat a cheater.  Nor is it inappropriate to hold this label over them for the rest of their careers.  They earned it.

Earlier this week a young Lilly King called out Yulia Efimova as a drug cheat.  And some have taken the opportunity to politicize it and cast Lilly as an insensitive bully.  So let’s take a look at the facts:

  • Strict Liability – Pretty much the cornerstone in the anti-doping code. Athletes are accountable for EVERYTHING they ingest, whether it’s written in their own language or another.  Supplements are “take at your own risk.”  Nothing new here.  Efimova made a decision.
  • The Banned Substance List is Incomplete – WADA recognizes that the list is incomplete. Cheaters recognize this too and often receive reduced sentences as result of taking a previously unknown designer drug, but “it’s not on the list” isn’t supposed to be a defense.  The banned substance list is only a guide.  There’s nothing new about this excuse.

Meldonium was placed on the banned substance list last year.  The drug is not approved in the US and is really only available in Russia and the Baltics.  As a precaution, the IOC notified athletes that Meldonium would be placed on the banned substance list for 2016 as early as September of 2015.  Over 200 athletes tested positive for Meldonium, including Efimova.  The rules state that those 200 athletes should receive a mandatory ban.  But the IOC opted to go against precedent, granting these athletes amnesty for this offense.

Yes, in 1992 the IOC added clenbuterol to the banned substance list, resulting in a FOUR year ban for several athletes.  Why was meldonium different?  Scale, money, and probably a good deal of politics.

  • Corruption – Last year the world was “shocked” by the revelation that Russian authorities had been actively undermining anti-doping efforts.

So in summary:  Athletes are held accountable to a system of strict liability.  Meldonium usage was limited almost exclusively to Russian athletes.  Efimova has been training in the US since she was 19, so she had to actively seek the drug from a source outside this country.  She had already been given one “get out of jail free” card, so logic suggests that she would be more careful in the future.  She was a medal favorite from a country that did everything possible to provide its athletes with an unfair competitive advantage.  No, she’s earned every bit of the harsh truth she created.

When Lilly King called a spade a spade, it wasn’t “a moment of perfect American morality.”  It was an Olympian, making a statement about her morality and the inconsistencies around her.  That’s admirable.  That’s the spirit of Olympism.  Go Lilly!

In my opinion this isn’t about any country.  This is about inconsistencies and corruption at the highest level of sport governance that casts doubt on a system that the athletes must trust.  This is about athletes asserting their opinions to drive future policy.

Clean Athletes Continue to Pay a High Price

As an association that focuses on growing athletes’ rights, a blanket ban on any NOC for corruption of any type is difficult to support.  However, we also believe in the rules that govern our profession as well as the Olympic sport.  Those rules hold athletes to the highest standard possible through a system of rigorous testing and compliance with a code.  For athletes to fully comply with these anti-doping programs endorsed by the IOC and all its member federations, all athletes are supposed to subject themselves to the same invasions of privacy that you would expect a parolee to experience 365 days per year.

Logic would suggest that the NOCs, IFs, and NFs that govern the Olympic sports would be held to a higher standard than the athletes. Yet this is clearly not the case.  Completely separate from the systemic corruption in Russia and the IAAF, there are known violations of the anti-doping code occuring globally every year for multiple years.  They go by the name of non-compliant countries.  Often these countries lack the organization or the funding to implement an anti-doping policy that is compliant with WADA code.  This is completely at odds with the zero-tolerance policy that drives WADA and suggests that the IOC nor WADA are as resolute in their pursuit of clean sport as they publicly profess.

If the code is impossible to uniformly implement, then you have three options:

  1. Enforce the code rigorously, no longer allowing for non-compliant countries to compete.
  2. Change the code to a standard that is a possible to achieve globally.
  3. Provide the additional funding, oversight and transparency necessary to implement the code universally.

President Bach has stated in defense of the decision to allow  Russia to compete in the Olympic Games:

“Engagement, not isolation, is the key, to build a functioning and more robust world-anti doping system. If we all contribute in this spirit then this painful situation can become a moment of catharsis in the fight against doping…”

Consistency plus a willingness to reach across the aisle engaging athletes in the deliberation as equals will go much further than the current status quo.  Together, we can foster a more sustainable, more comprehensive approach to clean sport that holds all parties to a standard that will make us all proud.

 

 

 

TFAA to Host First Track & Field Athlete Meeting on Doping in the Sport

TFAA to Host First Track & Field Athlete Meeting on Doping in the Sport
Top current and retired athletes and agents to discuss and identify strategies to promote a drug-free sport

ATLANTA – The Track & Field Athletes Association (TFAA) will host the first working group meeting on doping in the sport for professional track & field athletes on Saturday, January 23, 2016. At the teleconference via Skype, some of the world’s greatest athletes and top agents from around the world will share their experiences and ideas, and the working group will identify preliminary strategies for how athletes can better align and create a culture that promotes a drug-free sport. This will be the first time an independent group of track & field athletes will meet formally to address the issue of doping in the sport.

“TFAA strives to empower the athlete voice through collective action, and this meeting represents a milestone for the sport and athletes who are the sport, and our commitment to and the fight for a drug-free sport,” TFAA President Adam Nelson. “Our sport’s history has been that of individuals fighting for athlete rights. In order for us to better build upon their efforts, especially at the international level, we must work together as athletes and with the sport’s various stakeholders.”

The first TFAA Working Group will later be joined by additional working groups focusing on athlete’s most pressing issues as well as working closer with national and international governing bodies as partners in the sport.

About the TFAA
The Track & Field Athletes Association (TFAA) is a 501(c)(4) organization formed to support the rights and interests of professional track & field athletes. We are the Athlete’s Voice.