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Are all sports supplements detectable by anti-doping tests?
Since the origin of sports, athletes have always looked for ways to improve their performance. In this quest for performance, athletes use food supplements and even medical products. This practice is not recent, it dates from the beginnings of athletics. The ancient Greeks and Romans used herbs, mushrooms, poppy seeds and stimulants such as strychnstlous to strengthen themselves. This term then evolved and was much used in the world of racehorses.
Nowadays, dietary supplements and performance enhancing substances like hormones Synthetics have become essential in the world of sport. The thirst for victory of some athletes pushes them to use very powerful substances capable of giving them superhuman strength sometimes even at the cost of serious adverse effects on their health. It is with this in mind that the various sports federations around the world have agreed to put in place a list of prohibited substances and methods which is updated each year. TheWADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is responsible for the development and updating of this list.
Today, doping is defined as the use of prohibited methods or substances on the list established by the World Anti-Doping Agency. What are the arrangements made by the sports federations to ensure that athletes can not use the methods and substances listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency?
How did we get to the anti-doping test?
The first ban on performance enhancing products in sport goes back to 1928 by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). At the time there was no way to check the condition of the athletes. The death of cyclists Knud Jensen and Tommy Simpson at the 1960 and 1967 Olympic Games prompted the establishment of a medical commission called the International Olympic Commission (IOC), which published the first list of IOC prohibitions in 1967. This list became immediately, that of the prohibitions of the Olympic sports federations. It is in the wake of the Festina case of 1998 that The IOC convened the first World Conference on Doping in 1999. This conference gave birth to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which continues to fight against the use of doping products until now.
Thus, all over the world, there are anti-doping agencies that test athletes at competitions most of the time. But athletes can also be tested during training or even at home. The control is done according to the rules of the World Anti-Doping Code and according to international standards. The most common test is the urine test ; it is also possible that in some cases the test is blood.
The basic objectives of the anti-doping tests are as follows:
- support and preserve theethics of sport
- save the physical and psychological health of the players
- ensure that all competitors have an equal chance.
The new definition of doping means that the manufacturers of substances and dietary supplements are constantly innovating by putting on the market new products that can produce results as spectacular as those of the banned substances. Sometimes these new substances show even more efficiency than anything that has existed on the market in the past.
The anti-doping test a thankless task when the new strategy becomes the fault of tomorrow:
The results of a study conducted by a team of nine researchers from the universities of Tuebingen (Germany) and Harvard (USA) on doping in athletes sow doubt about the effectiveness of anti-doping tests. Indeed this study was held in 2011 during Pan-Arab Games in Doha and Worlds from Daegu where researchers randomly and anonymously interviewed 2167 athletes in total.
At the end of the surveys, 45% of athletes who participated in Panarabic games and 30% of those who participated at the world level have stated that they have used substances and methods prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency when only 3,6% athletes from Panarabes and 0,5% games for the worlds have been tested positive.
These results are absolutely confusing, but no wonder that the list of banned the World Anti-Doping Agency is not exhaustive.Manufacturers will always find new substances and better ways to hide them. On this point WADA will always be late. On the matter, the organizations in charge of doping controls are aware that their control is not foolproof at 100%. The example of the incident that occurred with Russian athletes in 2015 only confirms the suspicions. Russian athletes were able to bypass the 2011 system by August 2015 by exchanging positive samples prior to testing.
Many doping products still go unnoticed. The results of the surveys conducted during 2011 games prove it. The percentages of the results would certainly have been higher if all the athletes had participated in the survey.
Athletes are always looking to go beyond their limits. Go further, push your limits. And today, the strongest athletes are not necessarily the ones who respect the rules, but rather those who are better informed.