Mythical 'magic pill' still a worry for doping authorities
27 September 2014, 10:35
Incheon, South Korea- Anti-doping authorities must make no distinction between the ill-informed athlete and the hardcore drugs cheat when it comes to reporting positive tests as the ultimate duty is to keep sport clean, a top official at the Asian Games said on Saturday.
Tan Sri Dr. M. Jegathesan, chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia's anti-doping commission, said authorities traveled the world to educate athletes and sporting bodies about the benefits of proper nutrition and the dangers of taking supplements.
"You can tell them about a balanced diet and eating vegetables of four colours and so on, but there's nothing like popping a magic pill," he said at a news conference.
"And there are certain sports where some athletes still believe in the axiom: 'You don't take it, you won't make.'"
Jegathesan said 1,600 athletes would be tested in Incheon, with more than 1,920 samples collected over the Games period, which runs from the opening of the athletes village on Sept. 12 to the Oct. 4 closing ceremony.
Testing at the Asian Games was being conducted by 66 senior doping officers from South Korea, supplemented with 15 OCA officers representing the five regions of Asia.
Japan and China's anti-doping agencies had also sent officers, he added, helping remove any issues with miscommunication or cultural misunderstandings in testing procedures.
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"So we have a spread of international experts who reflect the different ethnic groups and different language skills, bringing to bear a visibility of internationalization of the workforce," he said.
PAY FOR IT
There have been two positive tests so far at the Games -- a soft tennis player from Cambodia and a Tajiki footballer.
Jegathesan said both were likely to have come after the athletes unknowingly consumed a substance in a supplement or an energy drink for example.
"I don't think there was ever an intention to use this to cheat, but our rules are very clear," the Malaysian added.
"We are not interested in your intention. Once this substance is found in your body, you have to pay for it."
However, after findings were sent to international federations and national authorities, "proportionality" could be applied when sanctions were being meted out, he said.
"Asia is quite a heterogeneous continent. There are 45 countries with wide differences in their capacities to have their own anti-doping programme.
"We like to use these Asian Games not only to catch and punish athletes but also to serve as an educational programme, especially for countries who are still in the stage of developing their own programmes."
Jegathesan said the system was not perfect and some cheaters slipped under the radar, but there was no choice except to move forward and continue the fight.
"Just because we miss some doesn't mean we should give up," he told Reuters. "Because, can you imagine, if you stop doing it then everybody will be taking (drugs).
"But at least now by having a system of education, a system of deterrence, and so on, we believe we discourage many athletes from taking."
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