Pubdate: Sun, 13 June 1999
Source: Scotland on Sunday
Section: Sport
Contact:  Neil Drysdale
things they do...', is at the end of the item.


Neil Drysdale Says That Drug Usage Is Making A Mockery Of The Sporting Ideals

While eco-terorists engage in conflict against genetically-modified
foodstuffs by burning crops and gaining royal patronage, and the use of
recreational drugs, whether ecstasy or cocaine, has increasingly become the
crime that dare not speak its name, sport continues to be plagued by the
march of the monsters.

Within the past week, Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit has claimed there is
widespread substance abuse in football; Michelle de Bruin's four-year ban
from international swimming has predictably been ratified by the IOC;
Scotland's European champion, Dougie Walker, has spoken of his personal
torment as he awaits the verdict of a doping panel; and the former cycling
hero, Marco Pantani, whose exploits in last summer's notorious Tour de
France earned him the adulation of his compatriots and admission to 'la
dolce vita', currently finds himself the latest spokes-personality to find
his reputation in tatters over a positive blood test and allegations that
his huge success owes more to the laboratory than any God-given talent.

It's a reminider, if any were required, that we are fast approaching the
development of the GM athlete, created then fortified by science and immune
from detection by the testers. Log onto the internet these days and virtual
reality has been transformed to hard fact. Peptide hormones, diuretics,
HGH, endogenous steroids, human chorionic gonadotrophin....

Here is a polysyllabic realm in which the progress of the boffins allows
these competitors prepared to cheat a pass- key to their wildest dreams of
lucrative sponsorships, Olympic gold medals and the inevatability that even
if they're eventually trapped, the mess of litigation which ensues will
drag on in sufficiently Jarndyce-like fashion to convince a sceptical
public that their suspicions are correct. Namely: "They're all at it."

Ultimately, this cynicism will prove the death of sport if it's allowed to
rage on unfettered, but according to Frank Dick, the respected coach and
mentor to a wide range of sports stars from Boris Becker to Gerhard Berger
and Daley Thompson, we've passed the stage where hand-wringing and
why-oh-why editorials are the answer.

Either we simply cry havoc and let slip of drugs, permitting everyone to
take whatever substances they want, or we decide finally to stamp down on
those for whom the pharmacy is a shortcut to success.

Not with a minority of cash-strapped testing agents either, but by
governments and the IOC finally combining to ram home the message that the
next generation of Johnsons, Flo-Jos and De Bruins will not be allowed to
pollute the Olympic ideal.

"It's easier said than done when you acknowledge that some variants of HGH
are nearly impossible to detect, and that the development of drugs like
creatine has muddied the waters, but I don't believe, and I can't believe,
that the problems are insurmountable and that we should complacently hand
athletics, cycling, swinning and the rest over to the druggies," said Dick.
"The fact is, though, that the present rules were devised for amateurs not
professionals, and that the limited funding available to the testers is
completely inadequate to deal with the scale of the abuse. In a perfect
world, the breakthrough would come when people did the right thing because
they wanted to, not because they had to, but the incentives and inducements
are so huge nowadays that's probably a pipe dream.

"Yet it has to be recognised that science is on the move and too many
sports bodies are standing still. The UK Sports Council has just formed an
Ethics Committee and maybe that is one way forward. But, at the moment,
we're only scratching the surface. What's the government doing? And what
have previous governments done?"

Precious little is the immediate response as you might expect from a body
whose PR geniuses produce images of copulating insects designed to
discourage teenagers from having sex and similarly obscure and/or
simplistic anti-drug messages. But even the prudes and puritans have to
accept it's never been enough to tell youngsters: "Just Say No."

Instead, the International Olympic Committee has to grasp the reality that
in a world of test-tube babies, cryogenics, the development of GM
substances and animal cloning, science and sport are inextricably linked
and that, if new performance-enhancing supplements are placed on the
market, as long as they're both safe and legal, there should be no
obstruction to athletes employing them to improve their standards.

As for the remainder, those materials with horrific side-effects - such as
the growth hormone preparations which have been linked to CJD - the only
course of action open to the IOC and its political counterparts, is to
invest significantly in eradicating the scourge with regular out-of-season
sampling, blood testing and contracts signed by athletes confirming that
they have not contravened the regulations.

"The IOC established a $25 million anti-doping agency in February but we
need the government to offer more than merely spiritual support," said
Craig Reedie, one of Britain's two committee members. "Because unless sport
gets its act together, national legislation will have to be enacted here,
as it is in France, and drug-taking will become a criminal offence."

Cycling has already proved what happens when you allow the gendarmerie to
turn an event into a Tour de Force. Other sports should be watching and
worrying and waking up to the possibility of suffering the same dreaded fate.



Amphetamines can increase aggression as well as reducing tiredness and
fatigue, allowing competitors to perform at their maximum for a longer
period. They have a long history of use, especially in cycling. British
cyclist, Tommy Simpson who died on the slopes of Mont Ventoux in the 1967
Tour de France was found to have amphetamines in his bloodstream.

Side effects are a rise in blood pressure and body temperature as well as
an increase in anxiety.


Perhaps the most famous sort a illegal drug, anabolic steroids help build
muscle, and strength. They are therefore widely used by power athletes who
rely on explosiveness like weightlifters and sprinters. Endurance athletes,
like cyclists, long distance swimmers and triathietes also use them however
to help them recover from the effects of their heavy training loads.
Testing is done by measuring the bodies' level of testosterone to

Side effects are well documented and include mood changes and other
psychiatric and psychological conditions, hypertension, skin disease and an
increased chance of suffering a stroke.


Are used to control the effects of anxiety and also to slow down the heart
rate. As such they tend to be used in sports requiring a steady hand and
great precision such as archery or shooting.


Used to bring about dramatic weight loss and as such are favoured by the
likes of boxers and jockeys. Also the type of drug that Diego Maradona used
before the 1994 World Cup in which he failed a drug test. Diuretics can
also be used to increase urine volume in an effort to make the detection of
small quantities of banned substances more difficult.


Often referred to as "designer drugs" these amino acids are designed to
simulate the actions of the body's natural steroid hormones, increasing the
body's anabolic capabilities. Worryingly, there is a possible link between
the use of human growth hormone and Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.


Blood doping simulates the benefits of training at altitude, boosting the
body's red blood cell count thereby increasing endurance. In days gone by
blood doping was achieved by taking blood out of the body, storing it and
then reinfusing it into the athlete's body. In recent years this
inconvenient and time consuming method has been superseded by the use of
the drug Erthyropoietin (EPO). EPO was originally developed to counter
anaemia resulting from kidney failure but is now the drug of choice for
endurance athletes and was at the centre of last years Tour de France
scandals. EPO is impossible to detect and so the cycling authorities have
decreed that a haematocrit level above 50% is both unsafe and an indication
of drug taking.
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