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Effective Fight Against Doping: The Key Role of International Cooperation, Athlete Education, and Stricter Penalties

SPORTEffective Fight Against Doping: The Key Role of International Cooperation, Athlete Education, and Stricter Penalties

Data from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) indicates that doping is detected in approximately 1-1.5% of samples taken from athletes. However, their reanalysis can reveal surprising results, as it often uncovers a much higher percentage of anti-doping rule violations. Some studies suggest that the percentage of athletes resorting to banned substances could be as high as 15-18%. In the effective fight against doping, international cooperation and athlete education are needed, and there are calls for stricter penalties for legal responsibilities.

“The global anti-doping community is increasingly successful in detecting anti-doping rule violations. We are using increasingly advanced laboratory analyses that allow us to detect various banned substances. Besides, we use so-called hematological or steroid profiles, where we don’t look for banned substances themselves, but for their effects on the body,” says Dr Michał Rynkowski, director of the Polish Anti-Doping Agency (POLADA), in an interview with Newseria Biznes.

In the past, blood and urine from athletes were mainly examined for banned substances. For the past several decades, a biological passport has been used, which monitors selected biological variables over time that indirectly reveal the effects of doping, rather than the substance or doping method itself.

To ensure athletes are not using performance-enhancing drugs, a long-term profiling process is used, which verifies whether an athlete has used banned substances or methods in the past. Despite advancements in this field, today’s methods sometimes don’t allow every banned substance or method used to be detected. Out of 300,000 conducted tests, a banned substance or other violation of anti-doping rules is detected in about 1-1.5% of cases, however, the real scale of the problem can be much larger.

Research conducted in 2020 by Raphael Faiss from the University of Lausanne indicates the percentage of doping among athletes could range from 15 to 18%.

Dr. Michał Rynkowski stresses the importance of education in the fight against doping. He believes that every athlete who enters the sporting market should first receive anti-doping education before undergoing an anti-doping control. He cites the cooperation and regional collaboration of national agencies as a significant role in strengthening the anti-doping system.

Another issue is the responsibility and penalties for using doping. According to the World Anti-Doping Code, for athletes, the penalty is a multi-year disqualification, which often ends their careers.

The second aspect is the criminal liability outlined in the national laws. Currently, administering narcotics, psychotropic substances, or new psychoactive substances can lead to imprisonment of up to three years. Producing and providing these substances is also a crime.

“Evaluating the functioning of these regulations since 2017, we believe that these penalties should be tightened. This would place this law higher in the hierarchy of potential crimes for services and prosecutors, and could be more boldly applied. On the other hand, it would ensure that people who commit such undoubtedly socially harmful acts are more severely punished, for more robust general prevention, and to effectively deter potential offenders,” emphasizes Dr. Michał Rynkowski.

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