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Aug 7th, 2008, 10:20 PM
The Evans Report: Olympians Beware Of Vitamins

By Richard Evans Thursday, August 07, 2008

I hope Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and all the other tennis players about to compete in the Beijing Olympics have been paying very close attention to any vitamin supplements they might have been taking over the past few months.

Because 10.5 percent of them might not have been safe. At least 10 percent of supplements tested by the company HFL in a Lucozade-sponsored examination in Newmarket, England recently were found to contain enough illegal substances to trigger a positive drugs test.

And, of course, if anyone has, unknowingly, inadvertently and completely innocently been taking a contaminated substance, it will their fault. In the harsh world administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency, justice is meted out with only a little more tolerance and understanding than at Guantanamo.

I am not on the side of the drug cheats. I think they deserve long sentences with the understanding that they will be banned for life if they offend again. What worries me is the continued lack of perfect science when it comes to determining what is a banned substance; how it was created and how it got into the athletes body.

A few years ago over 50 ATP players suddenly started testing positive for nandrolone with Greg Rusedski becoming the most high profile case. I am not sure if anyone really got to the bottom of that particular problem. At first ATP trainers came under suspicion for inadvertently administering vitamins manufactured in a certain laboratory where nandrolone particles could have been left on work benches. But, in the end, that seemed too far fetched.

What did emerge was the changing nature of scientific research and how unsuspecting athletes can get caught up in it.

In the late nineties a medical paper was published stating that nandrolone could not be produced in the human body. A few years later there was a revision. Pregnant women, apparently, produced it in abundance and humans could, if they consumed certain foods, produce a reading of 2.5. To call that miniscule is to understate the case. A nandrolone reading of 2.5 wouldnít help an ant get back to base. Rusedski had a reading of marginally more than that. To offer some comparison, a few Olympic runners showed up with readings of several hundred which was, indeed, significant.

The point is that the scientists who do great work and the best rate they can, discover new things every week. Initially they made a mistake over nandrolone. Their reputations have not been tainted; their names are not known outside the scientific community. But there will always be an asterisk against the name of Greg Rusedski. Any biography or newspaper report on him now and forever will contain a reference to drugs. Even though he was finally cleared.

So it is not a level playing field. Is someone a drug cheat if their doctor, whom they have to trust, gives them a vitamin or a cold medicine containing a substance deemed illegal? Not in my book. But the hard line cynics ó those people who are so holier than thou that they like to condemn someone and throw away the key ó donít seem to care. In their zealous pursuit of the real culprits, they donít worry about how many innocents they sweep up in the nets.

IOC President Jacques Rogge blithely predicted a couple of weeks ago that he estimated there would be 40 athletes who would test positive in Beijing. Oh, really? Why? Because, apparently, detection was so much more sophisticated now. So the figure of 26 positive tests in Athens was bound to be increased.

Well, it may be more sophisticated but are there scientists working in this field who would lay their life and reputation on sticking with an exact amount of nandrolone that can be produced naturally in the human body? Is it still 2.5? Or is it now, say, 7.5 or 8.00?

I am using nandrolone as just one example there are others and as science advances so the numbers change. But the vilification of athletes and the permanent scarring of their reputations doesnít change. Thatís forever.

"We have a right to know that any supplements we take are totally clean," says British marathon runner Liz Yelling who will be competing in Beijing. Is that too much to ask?

Aug 7th, 2008, 10:39 PM
Athletes should already be aware of this. :shrug:

Aug 7th, 2008, 10:49 PM
Of course athletes should be aware of this. But I do fear sometimes drug testers do go to other extreme. I do think we need to distinguish between the athlete who deliberately takes a massive amount of a banned substance to improve their performance and the athlete who ends up with a trace of a banned substance out of negligence for testing a product that might have been given to them by their doctor. There is a difference folks. Not everything is black and white, guilty or innocent. There are levels of guilty. While some athletes might deserve a lifetime ban for others a more sensible pushiment might be a 3 to 6 month ban. I do believe more flexibility needs to be at the discretion of those who do the sentencing.

Great article by Richard Evans who is one of the best tennis writers around.

Aug 7th, 2008, 11:05 PM
Sometimes you don't need a massive amount of a substance to be able to dope. It's all about specific dosages of a drug or a mixture of substances ...

Do some research on "le pot belge".