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Verifying Drug-Doping Claims

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Very few disagree with the notion that doping in sports has become a crisis international in the world of competitive sports. Doping enhances performance in sports of the users of doping drugs. It is illegal in the sporting world. It is an act that robs the game of sports of its essence at awarding the best and of the spirit of fairness and friendship associated with sports. A second consequence of doping is the well-known negative health implications for those using these classified drugs that are banned for sports men and women. The number of possible health complications that results from doping are enormous. The chances of dopers escaping the negative health implications in the future are almost zero!

Steroids top the most common forms of drugs used by dopers. Examples of some banned drugs in Sports can be found here There are also drugs or items that are permitted for Sports men and women. Every eligible and competing sports person are expected to stay away from the substance so mentioned in the banned list. It is done with the aim of making the sporting world as clean and healthy as possible. There are some indicating sign of red flags that can be used to probe possible use of drugs but this itself is not verification! Verification must follow laid down rules and procedures!

Anti-Doping Agencies

Anti-doping is one of the most significant aspects of ensuring integrity in the world of sport.  There are a number of anti-doping agencies that are responsible for checking and enforcing anti-doping rules. Examples include US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), and the French Anti-Doping Agency etc. The UK’s anti-doping agency has a reputation as having one of the strongest anti-doping regimes in the world.

Many athletes have been banned in the past for using prohibited steroids and other substances according to the rules of the sports. There are many reasons why sports men and women engaged in doping activities. However, the act is not acceptable and should not be excused at any time.

However, when there is a report or news concerning doping or drug use by an athlete or sports person, it is often the case that a large percentage of the members of the public assume that the person so named and accused is guilty as reported. Two very important questions that ought to be asked is missing in such conclusions! They are:

1.     Have the news being independently verified?

2.    Have the source of the doping results being independently verified?

When doping claims or news come out, very few persons ask relevant questions. In sporting world, there are designed and defined testing methods and procedures. Samples could be obtained for testing from the blood, urine, etc.

The consequences of adopting a doping claim without verification can be injurious both to the society and to the sports person involved. There are likelihood of innocence of the sports person! In the case of his/her innocence is real, then that makes the likelihood collapse of a promising career in sports for the person more traumatizing and painful.  Society should and can avoid that diligently and patiently seeking answers to the two questions above. The sports person can also pursue the verification of the claim using the approach of seeking answers to the above two fundamental questions. However, sadly, some accused sports persons may be faced with the obstacle of lack of adequate resources including funding to conclude such pursuits.

Journalism as a career had been so broadly oriented that it is now possible to have journalists who specializes on sports journalism and investigation on sports matters. Often when such journalist are the source of a doping scandal or news. The trend is generally to believe the story and adopt the recommendations in the report even if the journalist’s opinion or judgment are not supposed to be considered as that of a panel (such as World Anti-Doping Agency)  for disciplining convicted dopers in the sport in question.

Elaborate verification of doping claims is essential to avoid complex cases like that which happened in December 5, 2017. On this date, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) announces that Russia is banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea because of the country's "systematic manipulation" of anti-doping rules.  This verdict was not accepted by Russia. The Russian government expressed their displeasure on the fact that proper verification was not carried out.

Interestingly, the IOC included a phrase which pointed out that the ban is not total, rather Russian athletes who can prove that they are clean will be "invited" to compete.  As expected, the Russian government did make appeals and the subsequently in February 2018 the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturns lifetime bans on 28 Russian athletes accused of doping and made other adjustments to the earlier verdict of the IOC.

The place and role of proper and adequate process of verification cannot be overemphasized in drug doping claims or news or reports. Starting from grassroots sports competitions in villages, counties, local governments, regional governments, councils, states, federations or nations, there is need for systematic verification processes that fully provides answers to source of the doping news and the source of the doping test results.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to help nurture and train their kids/wards on the danger of doping in sports. Teachers as well as local coaches and sports organizers have the duty to adequately educate youngsters on the need for balance in their expectations as they engage in pursuits of sports career or hobbies.  

The allure of the glory in winning but be sensibly compared and contrasted against the dangers of the negative outcomes of doping but psychologically and in terms of physical and mental health complications in the future.

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