Sports » Features

Anti-doping workshops to keep Olympics honest



Despite more than 40 years of rigid testing, some athletes continue to look for artificial and unfair ways to boost their strength and endurance. Keeping the Games clean has been a goal of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1967 when the first list of banned substances was published a year before the 1968 Games.

In the 2008 Summer Games, some 15 athletes from 12 countries tested positive for banned, performance-enhancing substances.

Just one Winter Games athlete tested positive in 2006, down from seven at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

Those numbers can always change, as new tests are developed and can be applied to older samples, or new information comes to light. For example, American track and field star Marion Jones passed her drug tests in the 2000 Games, but later admitted taking steroids after an investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Ensuring that the 2010 Games - and a roster of 2,200 Olympians and 600 Paralympians from more than 40 countries - are clean is a massive job. To get ready, the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) is hosting an international "Fairness in Sport" anti-doping workshop in Kamloops in November. The four-day event will be used to train more than 200 volunteer doping control officers and blood collection officers, as well as other officials, which will be gathering and testing more than 2,000 samples. The workshop will focus on anti-doping requirements by the IOC and International Paralympic Committee, looking at the latest technology and procedures.

"By delivering a state-of-the-art doping control program at the Games, all athletes can compete on a level playing field while showcasing their extraordinary athletic achievements to the world," said VANOC CEO John Furlong. "This workshop is key to our anti-doping strategy and the City of Kamloops is playing an important role in preparing our workforce and ensuring the success of the 2010 Winter Games."

Not all anti-doping procedures are focused on catching athletes. Because most athletes take nutritional supplements to assist in their training, and may take drugs to combat illness or injury, the IOC and IPC are also committed to launching an extensive education program for athletes and teams.

The work has already begun, as more than 500 athletes have been tested at World Cup test events taking place in Whistler and Vancouver the past two winters.

The anti-doping lab will be located at the Richmond Olympic Oval, and operated by the Institut national de la Recherche Scientific.