Biological Passports & Wada - a Lesson to Learn for Athletics

Just yesterday details of a positive drugs tests for two of athletics’ biggest stars, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, were released. In my eyes the media reaction to these two positives was negligible, the pair were at the pinnacle of their sport and I would have expected a much more robust reaction something similar to the outburst when Lance Armstrong confessed on Oprah.
After all if these two athletes were taking drugs then it is likely there are many more athletes on the rungs below them doing likewise. Indeed slowly but surely the world of athletics seems to be reaching a point where they will have to confront this very eminent problem.

Logically if these two athletes were doping then the man who beat them to it would also be doping, namely Usain Bolt. I am not condemning him just yet, but it is nevertheless likelihood and though he is undoubtedly talented, I am starting to wonder whether that is enough in the current climate of Athletics.
My stance is very simple, whilst cycling has been or hopefully is in the midst of a purge from drug taking, Athletics has been much more lax when it comes to doping. Only now with the introduction of new biological passports and better testing by WADA, a lot of that prompted by the disaster over the road in cycling, has the full extent of the problem started to emerge. Simply, athletics is 10 years behind cycling when it comes to dealing with the doping problem.  

It is no surprise that these two disciplines are the ones hardest hit, they are after all the ones in which taking doping products would provide the biggest benefit. There is no skill involved in either athletics or cycling, rather it is solely about the strength of the individual and therefore anything which can be done to increase that strength takes on paramount importance.
For people surprised about the news, well you shouldn’t be. Athletics has been quietly banging on the door the last year or so. The Russians recently suspended 42 athletes from competition. Even in cycling, numbers like that when it comes to suspension are rarely if ever found. Furthermore it casts a cloud over one of athletics most prominent nations; if such a high quantity is doping I wouldn’t be surprised if close to all of them are, after all the setup is typically a closely knit affair.

Many high profile athletes such as British European Champion Linsey Sharp have claimed there are a lot of dopers out there.  Two of the most high profile Kenyan distance runners have claimed that doping is widespread amongst the Kenyan athletes, the IAAF have setup a new lab in Kenya as a result but obviously more needs to be done.  The Kenyan 3 time World Steeplechase champion was recently caught and subsequently claimed that many athletes bribe officials, allowing them the peace of mind that they won’t be caught. Gay and Powell obviously fell afoul of this but what does that mean for Bolt, a multi millionaire who could lay close to any sum imaginable out to ensure he is not caught?

And now Jamaica has fallen as well, along with Powell they have had Olympic champion Campbell Brown also caught along with a number of other high profile athletes. So Jamaica and Russia have felt the first tremors as their athletic kingdoms start to fall. But athletics now need to decide what they are going to do, will they call for help or will they remain adamant that the current positives are only the few bad cookies in the sport. Even if they do decide to deny it, it will be only be a matter of time before the true plight of the sport is uncovered. 

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