Beijing 2008/London 2012 Are History But The Test Samples Taken Are Not: IOC To Retest

Patterns in the pool of world-class athletes across many spirts have shifted since the Water Cube hosted the 2008 Games, with 31 adverse findings having been identified in anti-doping retests this year (plus 23 positives from London 2012), no swimmers named so far - by Patrick B. Kraemer
Patterns in the pool of world-class athletes across many spirts have shifted since the Water Cube hosted the 2008 Games, with 31 adverse findings having been identified in anti-doping retests this year (plus 23 positives from London 2012), no swimmers named so far - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Armed with enhanced techniques, the International Olympic Committee is to revisit Beijing 2008: the retesting of hundreds of doping samples from the Beijing Olympic Games and some from London 2012, too, will attempt to catch drug cheats retrospectively ahead of Rio 2016

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Comments

Yozhik

There is a great philosophical, moral, legal, whatever reason for very existence of such things like the statute of limitations. Unless those test are really cheap it is ok to spend this funds on such search. The search that honestly speakng looks more like an attempt to help some people in making their livings or is the imitation of activity. If those test are costly then it will be much better to redirect funds on improvement of current system of fighting dopers. Instead of testing thousands of eight years old samples wouldn’t it better to make tighter control of current participants of coming Olympic Games.

BoetMate

Yozhik, I couldn’t agree less. Obviously current testing needs to continuously evolve,expand and improve. However, retesting and hopefully exposing and sanctioning a few high profile cheats from 2008 and 2012 is exactly what needs to be done. It sends a very strong message to current athletes that we will “get you in the end”. It also gives clean athletes some hope of a future level playing field.

If it wasn’t for the ongoing reporting of David Walsh and the bloody minded determination of Travis Tygart, Lance Armstrong would still be crowing about his 7 tour de France “victories”. As a result of his sanction and disgrace years after those “victories”, road cycling has gone from the most drug fueled sport in the nineties to currently one of the cleanest, certainly way ahead of swimming and athletics in terms of its testing protocols and introduction of athlete biological passports.

felix

Yozhnik I’m in agreement Boet. I think you’ve really missed the point here. Are you telling me lets just pick the women’s 400im defending Champ for arguments sake retests positive then that was a waste of time and money and she should swim in Rio? The facts are simple, the cheats have always been ahead of the testers and that’s why most of them get away with cheating. I think this is fantastic and I hope all the cheats they find are gone for life as they should be.

aswimfan

I totally agree with Boetmate and the reasons he mentioned.

Craig Lord

Yes, BoetMate, quite so – plenty of reasons to go back and retest, as suggest by you and Dangerpants. Current system could and should be improved – and the evidence suggests that it is being … but retrospective action is an important part of the fight – not just the threat but the ability to test for things now they could not test for as effectively or at all back then. Personally, I think 10 years not long enough for a limitation: if we discover things now about 1992 and 1993 and 1996 (not through testing etc but through hard factual evidence) that tell us there was corruption, criminality and wrong-doing, it should be dealt with, particularly in a sports realm in which authorities have clearly been a deliberate part of the cover-up and, at very best, the turning of eyes blinded by bling.

Yozhik

BoetMate, I don’t see what you found to be disagree with in my comment. The cases like Armstrong’s one must be exposed. No questions about it. But I won’t share your opinion that the business with professional road cycling became better just because everybody in this community got ashamed of what Armstrong did, went to the confession and became a good boys. The entire business got seriously hurt by the likes of armstrongs and many leading doped cyclists who competed after his retirement. Armstrong’s case was not actually a secret. Many people knew about it but were quiet because as you correctly mentioned the doping in this community was a common practice. Part of the culture if you wish. One just couldn’t get on the team if he wasn’t on drug. What we see in professional cycling today is the result of substantial investment in making drug control procedures efficient.
If to follow your noble idea then why to restrict ourselves with two last Olympics only. Why not to retest every single available test made at any venues during last 20-30 years? Firstly, it is costly and secondly it is a long shot without any real hints of what we are looking for – ‘it is hard to find a black cat in the dark room, especially if it is not there’
If we have unlimited funding then let’s do what you are standing for. But we hear again and again: ADAs don’t have money to do their jobs properly. And therefore they are always many steps behind the doping business that is blooming by making big money. In this situation it is very natural to ask what can be achieved most with the given limited amount of funds. My answer is do something similar to what was done in cycling. Focus spending on making current competitions clean as much as possible.

gheko

This is a move in the right direction as long as the people beaten for gold by drug cheats are awarded their gold medals going right back to 1976!

Craig Lord

Yozhik, they can’t test for 20-30 years – the samples are long gone. The record shows that several big names were caught through retrospective testing. It is an important strand of efforts; meaning the threat and the reality of retrospective action that uses smarter technology and knowledge to catch what could not be cause so readily back as far as two Olympic cycles.
Costs – yes, an issue – high throughput testing – they need to get smarter still.

Craig Lord

Yes, gheko – the past has been left to fester in the root and foundation of Olympic sport.

Yozhik

@Craig Lord. There are plenty of lawyer’s at this forum who can explain clearly what stands behind the idea of statute of limitations. Ethics, money, convenience, whatever. I’m personally is not a supporter of vendetta. If someone has desire, motives and money to reveal the wrong doings that happened many many years ago like Babashoff does with her book, then such a person will have my sympathy and appreciation. But that would be it.

Craig Lord

Babashoff is one thing, one case, one person, Yozhik. There are many other aspects: What do you say to those who have lived for 30 years with health problems and look yet across the table at family dinner at their disabled children and know why that is so. No, I am not exaggerating.

It is nothing to do with vendettas. It is to do with honesty, truth and the things that must be accepted and embraced if reconciliation is to happen, that reconciliation including victims on both sides of a coin; things that have to happen if you want the right culture in place, one that avoids young athletes being persuaded or cajoled into bad and harmful practices that will eventually not only be the death of some of them but the death of sport.

What do you say to the convicted criminal still honoured by FINA? What do you say to FINA, what message do you send to people in positions of power back then and still there and having done nothing about the past they would rather you didn’t speak about?

I suspect Shirley B does not want (and does not need) your sympathy and appreciation. She wants to be (and has a right to be) acknowledged of one of the greats of swimming she would surely have been viewed as. She has spent a lifetime as a person who has had all their belongings robbed from their home – not just once … but in every passing season of her life, her pain running in parallel to the different kind of pain suffered by the 14-15-16 year-olds she swam against who were fed a diet of health-harming, result-and-life distorting substances.

p.s I understand statutes of limitation, Yozhik – I just don’t agree they should be applied universally under all circumstances.

gheko

Shirley won 4 or 5 silvers in 76, one of many athletes who were robbed of gold, across a lot of sports, Raelene Boyle was another robbed by East German drug cheats of 100m and 200m gold medals in Munich 1972.

gheko

I am not saying its right to give 13yr old girls testosterone, and tell them they are vitamins either, but the fact is people were cheated out of medals and no action has been taken despite evidence!

Craig Lord

gheko, the facts are the facts, as you say. It is also possible to look back at bad history and find a conciliatory way of dealing with the past that does not injure those already injured; while leaving those who were responsible for criminal acts deprived of honour, status and included in the record in the context of what they did – not what they pretended not to do, not what they pretended to have had nothing to do with

gheko

In the same context its only fair to give gold medals to the athletes who did not cheat!

BoetMate

Yozhik, to reiterate, unfortunately I do disagree with your entire initial comment. Clear adult dopers (ie not minors abused) and/or their coaches and medical staff who intentionally and knowingly took/distributed PEDs and won medals, accolades etc must be pursued either by retesting samples or by other evidence (as in the case of Armstrong) posthumously if required.

It is the strongest message that can be sent to our current competing athletes. Also it is simply morally and ethically the right thing to do . ie expose and sanction individuals who have defrauded the entire world of sports loving fans and paying supporters like all of us on this forum.

Craig Lord

Indeed, BoetM, could not agree more.

Craig Lord

Absolutely, gheko – which was the basis of the petition we at SwimVortex and SwimmingWorld drew up in 2014 – had unanimous FINA Media Commission support for in terms of a reconciliation plan (part of the petition) being put to the FINA Bureau. Since then, not a word from FINA, not even an official response to their own Media Commission. I suspect the issue never got beyond director Cornel Marculescu’s desk but I would be very happy to hear from him telling me that it did, was fully discussed and the decision was …. “X” – that would be transparency and a mark of respect for ‘expert’ commissions FINA claims to rely on when it makes its decisions. Such things cut to the heart of the malaise at FINA and tell us that those in charge are unserious about best practice, ethics and transparency.

stabilo

Aside from whether it might be justified to test historical samples, which you’ve all debated, and my personal opinion is that it is well worth spending time and money to retrospectively test samples; the more relevant point here is that they’re re-testing samples from those athletes who are still competing.
You can argue the merits of spending money to test if 2008 champion Miss X was doping, but this is surely beyond debate that it’s worth doing if she is also planning to swim in 2016.

Craig Lord

My answers, stabilo, yes, do it, and yes, definitely do it for those still racing.

Yozhik

Dear BoetMate, please don’t make me look a person who supports those cheaters and criminals from the Sport. Same as you do I would like to see a fair competition. The competition where compete naturally given Talents, Wills and Dedications but not a pharmaceutical companies who use young people as guinea pigs. I hate to see the Sport as a political tool in hands of criminals who use it to stay in power or for illegal enrichment. But my posting was about entirely different thing.
I don’t think you want to use all available funds for retrospective testing considering that if something can be caught then it would be the strongest way to fix current and future problems. My posting started with ‘IF’. If it is not costly then let’s do it. Otherwise the funds can be used more efficiently to fight the doping problems in sport than via retrospective messages. Also I have all reason to believe that the way the ADAs are functioning has nothing in common with normal business model that is result oriented, motivated,controlled and is under pressure from competitors. The imitation of activity, the usage of big words and none-stop complaining of insufficient funds is a typical form of functioning similar public organizations. If I have to spend my $100 for doping control and have options either to initiate retrospective testing with unpredictable outcome or to improve the current testing process then I will go with the second option. But if I am a bureaucrat in public organization I will definitely go with option one. Because it is safe without any responsibility for failing to do my direct job.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, the two ‘choices’ you outline are one and the same, it seems to me: current testing (and how that is improved) is what makes it sensible to retest. I get the bureaucracy stuff and there is certainly room for improvement in the system. But if experts are saying ‘we can now test for X, Y and Z in a much more efficient way and catch cheats who thought they’d got away with it, that’s a good thing – and can help achieve the thing that you, BoetM, me and many others would wish: clean sport and far less wriggle room in which cheats can prosper than is the case right now.

Yozhik

@BoetMate. It is not directly related to what you said but can be an interesting parallel. When I immigrated to America I was deeply surprised if not to say more that prosecution can make legal deals with criminals either forgiving their crimes or making punishment softer in exchange for something that gives more benefits to People. It was also interesting to find out that one of the major reason why some states want to replace the capital punishment by life in preseason is the high cost of keeping criminal on death row for years.
It is a trade-off between desirable justice and money.

Craig Lord

Yozhik – in sport, the number of those who seek to tell the truth and reveal the full extent of what they and others have been involved in – in return for a softer landing – is rare indeed… and if anything where we have seen such things, the soft landing has been far more generous in nature than the level of intelligence provided by those caught cheating.

Yozhik

*prison. Not preseason 🙂

stabilo

Yozhik – life in preseason sounds bad too!

Yozhik

Yeah, stabilo. In this case autocorrect got smarter than me. The punishment with boredom can be the toughest one. 🙂

Felix Sanchez

We shouldn’t under estimate the value or retrospective testing as an injunction against ‘current’ doping.

One of the standard platitudes is that the testers are always one step behind in technology. Knowing that samples will be stored and re-tested years later, could help dissuade some from actions that seem beyond detection at present.

Yozhik

“Испугали ежа голым задом” 🙂 (can be removed if there is no English proverb with similar meaning)

Ger

I wonder how many, if any, tests will detect substances that were not banned at the time but since have been. Would such things be made public?
100 positive tests for meldonium since the start of the year. Those athletes are in terribly bad health.
On a related matter, this is disgraceful: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/35785322

Craig Lord

Yes, Ger. Head, as Andy Murray suggests, have taken a very odd stance – based on the opinions of those who disagree with WADA scientists who decided the substance should make the list. That the substance was on the list, of course, means that Sharapova should have known about it and changed her behaviour. I take it that if Head is correct, there will be a great deal of retirement from sport, what with all these elite athletes supposedly so sick that they would drop dead if Meldro hadn’t been ‘invented’. Something doesn’t add up somewhere…

ThereaLuigi

Dear Yozhik, the rationale behind statutes of limitations is that you cant have a perennial state of uncertainty. But the law is full of examples of violations for which there is no statute of limitations or the term is very long. However I dont know about statutes of limitations in sport (and even then, we should specify: are we talking statute of limitations for penalties like suspensions or for stripping off medals, which is more like a moral thing?).

However I think that your reasoning has a weak point in that there is no amount of money big enough to prevent contemporary cheaters from being a step ahead. So if we go back in time and strip people of medals because we caught up with them in the meantime we can perhaps hope to scare the cheaters of today. You might reply that what they are after is sponsor money, not just olympic glory, so they will still take the chance knowing that money earned and spent wont be taken back. I guess sponsors should insert retroactive termination clauses in their contracts. Besides, there is the moral side of giving back medals to those who deserved them.

Yozhik

Thank you Luigi for explanation of the rational behind the statutes of limitation. Always was fascinating where this unjustified at first glance notion comes from. So it is all about money. There is some cost to maintain the case in such order that both sides can dispute it in the court later. If I get it correctly then the Kylie Palmer’s case suggests that this period of certainty should be quite short and testing 8 year old samples may have no legal sense. Moral and ethical maybe.

Craig Lord

I think testing 8-year samples makes sense legally, Yozhik. The timeframe in the Kylie Palmer case was another example of how federations risk having their pants sued off – in swimming lucky for them that they don’t have folk earning the kind of sums Sharapova earns.

Yozhik

@Craig. I’m with you on this point. On the other hand if something gets found in these old samples we will hear thrilling stories of contaminated food components in Beijing, improperly labeled cold medicine or even intentionally faulted samples. Will it be possible to undertake legal actions resulting in significant punishment under such conditions? My legal education is not that deep to answer such questions. But my life experience whispers: “No. There would be no ligal consequences”.
I hope that people who decided to initiate this investigation are equipped with some modern technologies that will allow them to be 100% conclusive in proving the guilt at some particular types of violations. And that is what they are going to look for. Otherwise it would be a waste of money and valuable human resources.

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