Thursday, August 7, 2008

Olympic PED Preview

With the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics a day away, a PED preview is in order.

According to the Chinese Anti-doping Agency, China has conducted over 5,000 doping tests on its Olympic candidates in the past several months. At the same time, the State Food and Drug watchdog has increased their control over the production, use, distribution, import and export of prohibited substances according to officials last week. This is a step in the right direction for the host country, but will the outside world believe everything and/or anything from the government controlled press?

This Olympiad will mark the first where testing methods are in place to detect the use of human growth hormone (HGH). The benefits of HGH include boosting strength and speeding recovery. The new test will track HGH use beyond 48 hours.

At the Sydney Games in 2000, there were 12 positive doping violations out of 2,500 urine tests for a 0.48% positive instance per test. In 2004, at the Athens Games, the most doping violations in Olympic history occurred with 26. There were an estimated 3,375 tests conducted for a 0.77% positive instance per test. The positive instance occurrence per test jumped 60% from 2000 to 2004. If this trend continues, there will be a 1.23% positive instance per test or approximately 55 athletes testing positive at these Games.

In a poll on this blog, the highest number of athletes to be busted for PED's at the Games (8.8 - 24.08) were 21-25 (12% of respondents). The highest possible answer was greater than 25. International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge expects up to 40 athletes to be caught doping at these games. 40 athletes would represent a 54% increase in the number of athletes caught doping from the Athens Games. Rogge's prediction is based on the increased testing and improved quality of urinalysis.

Already doping has ended the Olympic dreams of 20 athletes from all over the world and from sports as diverse as race walking, swimming, middle distance running and weight lifting. Notable athletes banned from competition include:

  • Yelena Soboleva, Russian world record holder and favorite in the 800 and 1,500 meters

  • Jessica Hardy, American swimmer tested positive for clenbuterol

  • Song Hongjuan, Chinese race walker

  • The entire Bulgarian weight lifting team (11 members in total male and female)

The Olympic doping testing period began July 27th and runs until the Games end. Let the Games begin.

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