Halftime: The use of drugs in sports
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Halftime: The use of drugs in sports
By Chad Thompson
The summer Olympics of 1988 was an eye opener for the Canadian sports scene.
A Canadian athlete cheated by using a performance enhancing drug. Since that day, when sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal, steroids have become a major concern for Canadian sport programs.
The Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union has developed strict guidelines in order to prevent the use of any performance enhancing drugs. This policy includes mandatory drug awareness programs to be attended by all athletes who participate in sports before their respective seasons begin. Failure by an athlete to participate in these sessions results in a suspension until the course is completed.
Kerry Moyniham, the chief executive officer of the CIAU, explained the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport does all the testing for the CIAU.
"When the CCES does the test they inform us of any infractions," he said. "Then we contact the athlete and implement any sanctions."
Lenora Parker of the Drug Free Sport department at the CCES, said the list of disallowed drugs includes all substances banned by the International Olympic Committee, such as anabolic agents. She added the list also includes related substances such as peptide hormones, diuretics and pharmacological, chemical and physical manipulation. If tests for any of these substances are positive, the athlete is immediately suspended.
Along with the suspension there is a lifetime ban for anyone who aids the athlete's use or procurement of a banned substance, such as coaches or trainers.
Moyniham explained an athlete can appeal the results of the test within 24 hours but the CIAU requires a $300 bond which is returned only if the test is negative. If the second test is positive or the first test is not appealed, the athlete receives a four calendar year ban. Upon a second infraction, the athlete is banned for life from CIAU competition.
Parker said at the CIAU, the CCES performs two types of tests. "The first test that we do is a partial menu screen, which is done during the off season to look for any drugs that will improve training," she said. "The second test is a full menu screen which is done during the year and looks for all banned substances."
When asked about who they test, Parker said they do some target testing when they are given information about certain athletes or programs.
"The CIAU gives us information and we use the athlete pools to help set up the target testing," she said. "There are two types of announced tests short term tests where the athlete gets 36 hours to prepare for the test and no notice tests where someone from the CCES shows up and does the test."
As for the punishments, Parker said it was up to the CIAU to administer the sanctions by following the Canadian Policy on Penalties for Doping in Sport.
The nutritional supplements creatine and androstenedione were made popular this year by St. Louis Cardinal first baseman Mark McGwire. Parker said athletes should be cautious of both.
"The concern for athletes who use creatine is what is not mentioned on the label," Parker said. "There could be small amounts of banned substances but we are not sure what would show up on a test."
While the CIAU has a rigid set of guidelines to follow for drug infractions, the Canadian Football League is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Presently, the CFL has no drug policy or testing procedures. Jim Neish, director of communications for the CFL, said they are trying to form one with the CFL Players' Association.
"It comes down to a cost factor," he said. "We do not feel it is a problem in the CFL right now because we have not had a lot of incidents. The last one I can think of was in 1991 by an Ottawa Rough Rider player who was caught in possession of an illegal substance."
Although the CFL does not have a formal policy, Neish contends they are not blind to the issue of drug use.
"We are not naive. If it happens in the CIAU then it can, or is, happening at this level. It usually is brought to our attention, then we deal with it."
Parker said the number of drug infractions was decreasing as organizations begin to set up harsher and more rigid policies. The CCES testing has also become more rigid as they look for anything which could give an athlete an illegal edge.
Next week: The second half American drug policies.