Wednesday, February 17, 2016

V 6 N. 14 What You Need to Know about Drug Testing

Last week I wrote a very brief piece about what I learned about drug testing and the process that goes on after someone gets busted.    Today I hope to fill in a bit more about that subject.

The conference  I attended in Vancouver last week  was titled  "Pursuing Excellence in Sport Dispute Resolution" and was organized by The Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC)  as well as the international body  The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).  Prior to attending the conference, I had only heard of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and their Independent Commission that had investigated the alleged   doping hanky panky going on in the world of Track and Field under the alleged  supervision of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).

So in Canada the Chain of Command looks something like this.

International Olympic Committee
  International Amateur Athletics
             Federation (IAAF)
                        1                                   Off to the side are the organizations handling drug oversight
Canadian Olympic Committee                                   and dispute resolution  of other conflicts
                        1                                                                World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)
Individual Sports Federations                                                                       1
                        1                                                                  Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)
Athlete, Coach, Entourage                                                                            1
                                                                           Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC)

In the United States the chain of command is:

US Olympic Committee                        On the side is the US Anti-Doping Agency

On its website, the USATF has this to say about doping.
Athletes who participate in National Championships and Team USA competitions are subject to drug testing performed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in accordance with the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing.
BE ALERT - Knowing your rights and responsibilities may save you from making a mistake that could jeopardize your athletic career. The use of ALL dietary supplements is "at the athlete's own risk of committing a doping violation." 
From the above link you can find out more about US Testing Protocols and information about who is currently suspended and/or banned for life....
All sports have to deal with conflict from on the field violations to player/management disputes,  national team selection, and on and on.  Many of the disputes that are resolved in arbitration or mediation deal with contractual disputes in European soccer/football.  In basketball leagues under the supervision of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), most of their cases are from the Euopean basketball federations.  Not too exciting.  Richard McLaren who heads up the Dispute Resolution Centre for FIBA was one of the presenters at Vancouver.  Mr. McLaren was also one of the authors of the WADA Independent Commission report on the misdeeds in the IAAF and Russian track and field.  I was hoping he would talk about that subject, but he stuck to basketball unfortunately.  I was unable to corner him at the conference to ask some direct investigative reporter like questions much to my chagrin.

So, What About Dope?

The first drug testing at the Olympic Games began in 1968 at the Winter Games in Grenoble and then in the Summer Games in Mexico City, but it was always an uphill battle trying to develop testing procedures to catch the cheaters.   The whole action was provoked by cycling deaths of a Danish rider in 1960 in Rome and a subsequent cycling death in the Tour de France.   High levels of stimulants were found in both those riders.

 The IOC took the initiative and convened the First World Conference on Doping in Sport in Lausanne in February 1999. Following the proposal of the Conference, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established on November 10, 1999.*
*from WADA website

WADA was created in 1999 to investigate performance enhancing drugs in sport and recommend penalities.   Over the years rules have been created and updated to try to keep ahead of the cheaters.
For a brief history of WADA see    WADA History

Countries wishing  to participate in the Olympics or other world championships are required to have a national  organization similar to the SDRCC.    In the United States that responsibilty at the national level would fall to the US Anti-Doping Agency USADA.  At the collegiate level that would be the responsibilty of the NCAA or other similar organizations such as the NAIA or national Junior College governing body, and down through the state organizations to the secondary schools level.    Professional sports such as Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, the Professional Golf Association, and Tennis Association have their own regulating bodies , but if they also are an Olympic sport there would be some overlap,  and to  compete in the Olympics those athletes would seemingly have to answer to IOC and WADA rules as well.

In 2004 WADA instituted the World Anti Doping Code to promote a level playing field....  Acceptance and implementation of the Code is a requirement for any sport or country to participate in the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, World Championships or other major games.  

Somehow I doubt that the 'World' Series of Baseball submits to WADA. ed.

On January 1st, 2015, an updated version of the Code  came into effect, reflecting more than 2000 changes between the 2009 edition of the Code and this new edition.*
* In the Neutral Zone, News and Events of the SDRCC, Oct., 2014

Two thousand rules changes is a Herculean task for any sports federation or national body to adjust to, but it probably reflects the progress of the PED manufacturers and their purveyors to market their products to the sports world.

Here are several   areas reflected on in these many rules additions and changes as reported in the SDRCC document quoted above.  Please note that these rules are what has been set up for Canadian athletes and may not be exactly as set up for other countries.  But they do concur with some of the major changes in the WADA Code.

1.  Increased Sanctions  Article 10   Sanctions for the violations of presence, use and possession will increase from two to four years, with the possiblilty of a reduction to two years in certain circumstances if the conduct was not intentional.

2.  New Violations  Article 2  The text for the violation for complicity includes "assisting" and "conspiring" involving an anti-doping rule violation or the breach of a sanction during a period of ineligibility.

3.  Updates to 'Strikes' - Article 20   Athletes accumulate a 'strike' for a missed test or a whereabouts submission failure.  Once an athlete has accumulated three 'strikes'  within a given timeframe, they may face an anti-doping rule violation.

The rules around the timeframe will change so that 'strikes' will now be kept on an athletes's record for a rolling period of 12 months  rather than 18 months.

4.  Statute of limitations increased- Article 17  The statute of limitations has increased from 8 years to 10 years, meaning an anti-doping rule violation can be determined up to 10 years after its occurrence.

5.  Public Disclosure  Article 14   Public disclosure of an anti-doping rule violation will occur for every violation unless the violation involves a minor, in which case the national organization has discretion to not release the name  based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

6.  Introduction of the National Athlete Pool (NAP) Article 1   The Canadian Council for Ethics in Sport will work with national sport organizations to identify athletes for the NAP.  Everyone in the NAP will be considered to be a  national-level athlete.  Anti-doping education is mandatory for all athletes in the NAP.

7.  New Rules for Theraputic Use Exemptions (TUEs)  - Article 4   All national-level athletes will require a TUE.  This means that most athletes will be required to go through the full TUE process in order to use prohibited substances or methods for medically justified reasons. However, there will be expanded opportunities to obtain a TUE with retroative effect.

8.  Increased focus on intelligence-gathering  -Article 5  The increasing role of investigations is reflected in a number of Code amendments.  Investigations into possible anti-doping rule violations by teammates and the entourage of managers, coaches, and trainers will be mandatory when an athlete has an adverse analytical finding.

     One thing I learned at the conference is that if an athlete is determined to have violated the rules, he/she may have a reduction of the sanction if they freely admit the violation and are cooperative in the sense that they disclose the manner in which they violated.  I think that can be taken to mean they should rat out their friends and suppliers to get a lighter sanction.

     An accidental or unintentional doping incident is still going to get a sanction on that athlete.  One of the most common areas of inadvertent doping with an illegal substance is through the use of food supplements.  The athlete is considered responsible for what he/she  ingests.  Contamination of a food supplement is not out of the realm of possibilty.    One case arbitrated  in Canada  involved a supplement purchased by the athlete's parent/coach while on an overseas trip to the Middle East.   This apparently was the only thing the athlete thought might have been the source of the banned substance he tested for, but since all the supplement and the  container had been consumed and disposed of, the athlete could not show proof that the supplement was the contaminent. Obviously he was not willing to disclose or unaware of any other explanation of where the banned substance could have come from.  There was a suggestion that his food may have been sabotaged by team members or fellow competitors, but this could be considered credible based on evidence given to the arbitrator.  Thus the arbitrator was of the opinion that the 4  year sanction was justified.

If you are legally inclined in your reading matter you can see the arbitration report on that case at:
Canadian Arbitration    Be prepared for 40+ pages.

 One could say that there are basically two types of individuals who get busted for banned substances in their system:
                                              Cheaters and  Idiots.

Since the overwhelming majority of our readers are US citizens I think it is useful to explain the NCAA doping policy and procedure.

The biggest sanction you can get for doping in the NCAA is a one year suspension.   The NCAA is rather of a more rehabilitative mind than WADA.  There is a lot of mandatory training that all registered athletes get each year as well as coaches.  Some of the concerns are with nicotine and alcohol abuse which is not under the scutiny of WADA.  The NCAA would like to reform its young men and women who are being led astray by American  campus lifestyles, and so if they are flunking a screen for alcohol or suspected of smoking they will only be sent to educative counseling sessions.  A steroid  or EPO bust is what will get a kid put on the bench for a year.  Marijuana is six months.  I'm not sure if their scholarship is withdrawn at that time.  Scholarships are for one year only, so there may be some discretion given to the AD and coaching staff.  We won't mention the alumni association  and booster clubs  in that breath.   Much of the low level testing is conducted at random by the institutions themselves, but the NCAA does have a drug testing team that will descend on a university at least once a year if not more without notice and test football, not the full team but about 18 randomly selected team members.  Other sports could be 4-6 players selected.  This can even  be over the summer when players may think they can get away with PED use and then have time to let it wash out of their systems.  If the university catches an athlete they are supportive.  But they do have the option to suspend the athlete.  Testing for the full spectrum of pharmacuticals is very expensive, so most universities let the NCAA testing cover this aspect.  As stated above, if the NCAA detects PEDs, it's a one year penalty.  Marijuana is only six months.   The NCAA also does testing at national championships which in basketball can begin in the first round.    There is an A and a B sample taken.  The A sample gets tested and a specific gravity  and temperature test is done immediately to make sure someone hasn't carried a clean sample into the testing area.  If the A sample tests positive and the athlete wishes to appeal, the B sample can be tested.  It's pretty doubtful however that anything gets overturned in an appeal.  National Drug Free Sport has the contract to do the testing for the NCAA.

I'm not going into testing procedures for the major professional sports in this presentation.

Again let me repeat, most people who get busted  for illegal use of PEDs fall into two categories:

                                            Cheaters and  Idiots


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