Cheats cheat tests

Ashenden: System and athletes both corrupt

DR. MICHAEL Ashenden, project co-ordinator at Science and Industry Against Blood (SIAB) doping spoke at the Play The Game world sport conference today on the fallacies currently present in the drug testing system, writes Danni Cox.

According to Ashenden, it is not only athletes who may be tempted to step outside the rules and regulations in order to pick up that extra cash, suggesting there that there is not only corruption present amongst the athletes but in the system, too.

His particular concern was that the chain of custody between the “vein and the announcement” is supervised only by the tester, leaving it open to attack. “The system we use… depends upon the integrity and the competence of the tester who collects the sample,” he said.

“Those testers are human, those testers are prone to the same financial hardships as anyone else and they will be equally vulnerable to threats, intimidation and indeed even financial incentives as anyone else.”

It is not only testers who have come under suspicion of corruption, there have been some cases where a lab has not declared a positive result or where the lab has been thrown into suspicion because of hefty donations being made by athletes to testing laboratories.

While most laboratories and supervising bodies are honest and act appropriately, the individual workers within them could be prone to corruption. It is important to remember that “The lab has the absolute authority to decide if [its] positive or negative”.

To remove any possibility of corruption – on the part of the tester or that of the laboratory – that “absolute authority” needs to be broken down and a system of moderation and disclosure needs to be established in order to fully protect the parties involved.

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Filed under Play The Game 2009

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