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  • Fight Against Doping: ATR Exclusive - Doping in Boxing "Under Control"; Drug Test Not Foolproof; German Raids


    Ed Van WIjk of the Netherlands. (ATR)  
    ATR Exclusive: Boxing has Doping “Under Control”

    The chief medical officer for the International Boxing Association says doping is “under control” in boxing.

    Speaking to Around the Rings before the semifinals of the AIBA World Championships in Chicago, Ed Van Wijk also stressed that boxing faces the same challenges as other sports.

    “The whole lot of drugs is in boxing. There is nothing you will find in boxing that is not in other sports.”

    Boxing is working towards “all negative test results,” he said. “That might be a utopia but we are working for it.”

    This year, as every other year, Van Wijk said, there are “results with question marks” but each case is under investigation.

    The number of therapeutic-use exemption applications AIBA receives is also drawing intense scrutiny.

    “It is interesting that every year before the Olympics we have an increase in the number of therapeutic-use exemptions and the next year it goes down, and we are looking at all of those,” he said.

    These world championships may have a program that is constrained by money, but a robust program is still in place. Thirty random tests were performed before the semifinals got started; from the semifinals onward, every gold medalist and many also-rans will be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.

    Speaking personally, Van Wijk says new leadership at the World Anti-Doping Agency “will be an improvement” with “more flexibility”.

    He says AIBA is pleased with the current WADA Code and is one of the signatories to the Code.
    Van Wijk also praised AIBA president C.K. Wu, saying he “is very keen on supporting anti-doping. He is fully supportive of our efforts and knows anti doping is very important.”

    Detergent Derails Drug Test

    After many years and millions of dollars to develop a test for EPO, researchers have found that common laundry detergent available at most grocery stores can foil a sophisticated test.

    A scientist involved with the finding said as few as “one or two tiny little granules” can ruin a test.
    Scientists looked into the effect of laundry soap on EPO tests after a cyclist said he was given an unknown white powder before a urine test for EPO.

    Bloomberg News quotes Robin Parisotto, an Australian researcher who helped develop the original test for EPO, as saying “cheats appear to have found a way around the test with backyard science.”

    Authorities could test for tampering by testing for protease. The enzyme destroys EPO and is found in detergent, contact lens cleaner and other cleaning agents.

    EPO is used to treat anemia.
    The molecular structure of EPO.  
    It creates more red blood cells, making it a drug of choice for high endurance athletes.

    Testing for EPO began in 2000.

    German Police Raid Doctors’ Homes

    The homes and offices of Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich were searched by federal police on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into doping in Germany.

    The two are believed to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to cyclists.

    Prosecutors want to know if the doctors, both specialists in sports medicine, illegally dispensed prescriptions.

    The two previously admitted to providing medicine to athletes but statutes of limitation expired, meaning they could not be prosecuted.

    Another Australian Accuses Athletes of Doping

    Deborah Lovely, a weightlifter from Australia, claims she has first-hand knowledge of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.

    “I look at these other athletes and they tell me what they take and I've seen them take it and they can't believe I train without taking drugs,” Lovely said.

    Lovely would not say who was taking drugs. Her comments come just a week after fellow Aussie Elka Graham said she was offered performance-enhancing drugs in Athens, but would not say who offered her the drugs.

    Lovely, who placed 12th at the weightlifting world championships in 2005 said, “I'm never going to be an Olympic champion in weightlifting or place any higher than 12th in the world and I know that, because I don't take drugs.”

    Greek Sprinters Cleared of BALCO Ties

    Sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou and their coach Christos Tzekos have been cleared of any relationship to the Bay Area Laboratory Company, their lawyers said on Tuesday.
    There is an ongoing investigation into BALCO in the US where several top athletes having been implicated as receiving drugs from the company.

    The two denied having any connection to the company.

    “The Kenteris Thanou Tzekos case regarding BALCO is now closed,” said one of their lawyers.

    Kenteris and Thanou missed a drug test on the eve of their competition in Athens. They ere suspended for two years for doping violations, although they never tested positive. They are currently still under investigation for steroid use.

    Cyclist Could Appeal to Human Rights Court

    Kazakh cyclist Andrey Kashechkin says it’s possible he could appeal his drug test all the way to the European Court for Human Rights. Kashechkin tested positive for blood doping earlier this year while on vacation.

    Kashechkin is citing Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with “interference by a public authority”. His lawyers claim that a drug test while on vacation is outside of the limits prescribed to authorities.

    Christian Botteman, Kashechkin’s lawyer, said, “This is not a battle for or against doping, because we all are against doping. It is (a) battle against the system, which does not respect the fundamental rights of individuals. He was controlled at 10:45 p.m. It was an abnormal situation. Yet, if he refused it, he would have been considered guilty.”

    A court in the Belgium town of Liege will hear the case and determine if there are sufficient grounds for the case to continue.

    When creating anti-doping laws, officials must take into consideration European Human Rights Laws that prevent bans that could cripple an athlete’s career.

    Should Kashechkin win, there is the potential to change the way doping investigations are carried out in Europe.

    Richard Pound Wrap Up

    In his final few weeks as WADA president, Richard Pound has had harsh words for a number of people and organizations. Here excerpts from recent interviews and appearances.

    Pound speaking about cycling at the Financial Times Sports Summit in London:

    “Last time was the third year in a row that the Tour had been a disaster. I think (the International Cycling Union) let the situation get out of control. There's no question they had the view that the Tour and cycling was more important than following the rules.

    "They are reaping as they sowed. They have not got the stomach for the fight. The main aim of the heads of international federations is to get re-elected.”

    On general drug use in sports:

    “It will get worse before it gets better. We are trying to defeat a 21st Century problem with 19th Century organizations.”

    On drug use in professional sports in the U.S.:

    “U.S. professional sports are in a combination of denial and responding with the absolute minimum they think they have to do to keep Congress off their backs. It is only legislation that gets their attention.”

    In an interview with the Financial Times:

    Genetic doping will be the next threat; WADA is “working with (scientists) to have a non-invasive (test) ready by the time these techniques are being used.” He added that it is hard to know how much doping there is. “It is very hard to quantify the scale of the problem. Some countries understand the problem, but don’t know how to go about solving it. Some are still trying to pretend there is no problem.”

    In a question and answer session with readers of an online news site:

    Athletes who dope are “not too smart” or “the people who are controlling them do not care about them.”

    When asked what he regrets in his often controversial six-year tenure as the lead fighter against doping:

    “I regret nothing.”

    Doping Briefs

    Swimming Australia has been thwarted in its attempts to find a legal loophole that would force Elka Graham to say who offered her performance-enhancing drugs. Graham earlier claimed she was offered drugs before the Athens Olympics but has refused to name any names. Glenn Tasker, Swimming Australia’s CEO, met with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority on Tuesday to see if Graham had broken any rules with her statement but was told she was in compliance with existing policies.
    “Swimming Australia won't be able to do a great deal about the bombshell that was dropped last week,'' he said, adding that SA”s attempts to discover who offered Graham drugs “will come to an end”…

    The International Weightlifting Federation and Turkish Weightlifting Federation say Turkey has eradicated performance-enhancing drugs from the country. All drug tests conducted in the past two years have come up negative. In 2005, Turkish Weightlifting had to pay $100,000 in fines to the IWF for doping offenses…

    Afghani billiards player Habibi Najeebullah has been sent home from the Asian Indoor Games after testing positive for cannabinoids…

    Bibiana Ng, Joseline Cheah and Siti Nur Masitah of Malaysia have successfully appealed the results of their positive drug tests to the International Shooting Sport Federation. Their bans were reduced from two years to one. The trio tested positive for propranolol in March…

    Italian Sandro Donati won the Play the Game Award on Thursday. Donati is a leader in the investigation of the connection between organized crime and performance-enhancing drugs. The prize is coordinated with Play the Game, a Danish organization that provides “a home for the homeless questions” in sports.

    Compiled by Ed Hula III.

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