Tag Archives: drugs

Performance enhancement from Doping is for life and not just for Christmas

August 24, 2010


Source: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/62297/title/Muscles_remember_past_glory

The .pdf file of the full PNAS research findings can be downloaded at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/08/02/0913935107.full.pdf

This interesting story caught my eye this morning. Essentially five scientists from the University of Oslo, Norway (Jo C. Bruusgaard, Ida B. Johansen, Ingrid M. Egner, Zaheer A. Rana, and Kristian Gundersen) have announced their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) that “Myonuclei acquired by overload exercise precede hypertrophy and are not lost upon detraining,”

In lay speak, while it is common knowledge that the principle “use it or lose it!” applies to exercise and that muscle fibre will atrophy when it is inactive over long periods of time, this research found that muscle fibres retained nuclei substantially longer after overload (training) was discontinued, indeed the scientists even suggested that the presence of this nuclei may also help to delay muscle atrophy.

Where the findings become really interesting for sports lawyers though is in Professor Gunderson et al’s findings on page 3, that contrary to popular opinion, these muscle nuclei do not disappear with the surrounding fibres when the muscle atrophies. If a hypertrophic episode leads to a lasting higher number of myonuclei, this might provide a long-term advantage even if the stimulus for hypertrophy subsides. The advantage could manifest itself as resistance toward detraining-related atrophy and a more efficient response to retraining.”

 And at page 4: “because anabolic steroids facilitate more myonuclei, nuclear permanency may also have implications for exclusion periods after a doping offense.”

This would seem to suggest that the advantages gained from taking performance enhancing substances, particularly anabolic steroids may stay in the body permanently, even when that athlete has demonstrated they are clean after a period of suspension, thereby giving drugs cheats an unfair advantage over other athletes. If these findings are true, they would certainly seem to support the British Olympic Association’s current life ban for Drug Cheats.

It also gives me hope that if my abdomen can somehow remember what a six-pack feels like all those years ago, there is hope for me yet, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

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Is Rugby Union soon to follow in the footsteps of Cycling and Athletics?

August 15, 2009


Sources: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/sport1/hi/rugby_union/my_club/bath/8093596.stm http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/rugby_union/article6737649.ece http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/8174825.stm

Following several doping related incidents 2009 seems to be a year the RFU and Bath Rugby may want to either put behind them or feel proud of.

It all started in January when it evolved that Matt Stevens had failed a drugs test and then in February was banned for 2 years. (see the following link for the full story https://sportslawnews.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/matt-stevens-starts-2yr-drug-ban/)

Then in June Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins quit Bath following claims that they refused to take drugs tests. It was alleged that Lipman, Crockett and Higgins had taken recreational drugs whilst at an end of season party. As a result their then club Bath requested they take drugs test. The 3 players were said to have dodged these requests. However all 3 deny that they were avoiding tests and in doing so they walked out on the club, claiming “scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations” had forced their exit.

In July Justin Harrison admitted taking cocaine and was suspended from playing or coaching for 8 months for “actions prejudicial to the interests of the game”. Harrison admitted to taking the class A drug in the toilets of a West London pub and he also confessed to shouting “Class A, it’s OK, everyone’s doing it” on a coach carrying members of the Bath academy.

Now we are in the second week of August and following the goings on in June Lipman, Crockett and Higgins have been suspended by the RFU for 9 months after being found guilty of misconduct for failing to comply with their club’s request for a drugs test. What is interesting is that all allegations that the players had taken the drugs were dropped at the start of the hearing, which then allowed the hearing to focus on whether the club’s requests were reasonable or whether the 3 players actions in quitting the club after being asked to take the tests were reasonable.

The panel chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett fully supported the club’s actions and stated, “If the players had nothing to fear from taking a drugs test then they would have taken them.” They then went on to say, “The reality of the case was that at the time when asked to take a drugs test, the players believed there was a risk of positive results.

“This was either because they knew they had ingested drugs or they had drunk so much alcohol that they could not remember whether or not they had ingested drugs. Each of the players therefore decided to play for time, keep out of contact and then hide behind legal defence.”

Richard Mallett, solicitor acting on behalf of Lipman, Crockett and Higgins, said: “All three players are absolutely devastated by today’s result and that they have now been suspended from playing the game they love.” However, there is no sign of an appeal at the moment. This is possibly because everything that was stated in the panel’s summing up is true and their actions have hit home, after all nothing screams guilty more than refusing or obviously avoiding a drugs test on several occasions. The 3 players will now have a lot to do in repairing their damaged reputations.

Whilst some may feel disheartened that Rugby Union seems to be following in the footsteps of cycling, athletics, swimming etc and gaining a reputation for doping, others may see the shining light at the end of the tunnel. 2009 may be viewed as a breakthrough in tackling drugs in Rugby. Especially with premiership Rugby growing in popularity recreational drugs can no longer be ignored.

“The RFU disciplinary panel takes no pleasure in imposing its sanction as the players involved are decent young men,” the judgment added. “There is also a need for a strong deterrent in this sanction.”

The RFU supports Bath’s tough stance on what seems to be a zero tolerance for drugs, whether they be performance enhancing or purely recreational. In addressing the issues raised players will be subject to a new education programme next season whilst Bath’s head coach wants to push through a new code of conduct for all to abide by, which includes a ban on recreational drug use. Other clubs and sports should perhaps take a leaf out of Bath’s book by taking the initiative and going above and beyond that which is covered by WADA regulations to preserve the quality and reputation of the sport whilst protecting the health and welfare of its players and all those young people who look to professional sports players as role models.

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Equasy – a dangerous new addiction?

March 26, 2009


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7876425.stm ; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1138567/Taking-ecstasy-dangerous-horse-riding-says-Governments-drug-advisor.html; http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/homepage/Ecstasy-row-Professor-says-sorryarticle-687632-details/article.html


Read the actual journal article Equasy a harmful addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms’  here: http://jop.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/23/1/3


Professor David Nutt (Chairman of the Home Office advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD)) sparked controversy last month after comments in the January edition of the Journal of Psychopharmacology where he suggested that riding is at least as dangerous as taking ecstasy, if not more so!


Indeed Professor Nutt argued that taking pleasure from riding horses was a ‘harmful addiction’ and led to ‘Equasy’ (Equine Addiction Syndrome). Furthermore because this syndrome was associated with ‘groups engaging in violent conduct’ and ‘serious adverse events every 350 exposures’, it would appear to be more harmful than ecstasy. Although much of the data to support Professor Nutt’s arguments was taken from a previous medical journal on riding incidents, it seems spurious to link all aspects of riding with hunting violence, or early onset Parkinson’s Disease, as was suggested on p.4 of the article.


Speaking later, Professor Nutt defended his comments: “I did not intend to offend anyone who had suffered from friends or family being harmed by either riding or ecstasy. However, people should have access to the facts about the harms of whatever they do so they can make informed decisions about taking those risks.”


The ACMD also distanced itself from the article, while Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary) strongly criticized the professor in Parliament for trivializing the dangers of drugs and showing insensitivity to the families of victims.


While the main thrust of the article was to highlight that riding and other dangerous sports carry inherent risks (often not fully appreciated by participants or spectators) and that these risks are tolerated by society whereas other statistically less dangerous activities are restricted, ultimately this message was drowned by the all too foreseeable headlines. This is a shame as the identification of Equasy raises some interesting questions. At least, I know though that my desire to throw myself around and somersault off various objects is not irrational, but rather a symptom of a deeper psychological illness! Maybe one day there may even be a cure for me…….

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Schumacher (the cyclist) gets a 2yr drugs ban

March 12, 2009


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/7928676.stm;  http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/7668224.stm


German Cyclist, Stefan Schumacher has been banned from cycling for two years (until 21 January 2011) after failing a drugs test during last year’s Tour de France. Schumacher tested positive for Cera (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), a variation of EPO.


Somewhat predictably, Schumacher proclaimed his innocence: “One thing is clear: I have not doped and I have nothing to hide,” and vowed to clear his name at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


Three other riders (Italy’s – Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Ricco, and Austrian – Bernhard Kohl) also admitted to using CERA at the 2008 Tour. Two other riders, Spaniards Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas Nevado, tested positive for an older version of EPO during the Tour itself, and Kazakhstan’s Dmitri Fofonov failed a test for heptaminol after stage 18.



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Scouting for drugs

March 12, 2009


Source: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=622934&cc=5739 ; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7913620.stm


Spanish police have arrested 11 people and seized over six hundred kg of cocaine (street value £70m+) in connection with a drugs smuggling ring. An official apparently revealed that of the three footballers involved in the arrests, one is still playing in Spain with Segunda side, Rayo Vallecano, while the two other players have retired but used to play for Athletic Bilbao. Two football agents (one Spanish, the other a Serbian-born French citizen thought to be the leader of the ring) were also among the men arrested.


Police allegedly found the cocaine hidden in packets among machine parts for wind farms inside a shipping container in Madrid, which had been transported by boat from Argentina. It is widely believed the agents organised the smuggling operation while on a trip to Latin America scouting professional footballers.


In a statement, Fifa said it “strongly condemned any criminal activities which may be, even if indirectly, associated to football”.

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Biological Athlete Passports

March 12, 2009


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/front_page/7908777.stm ; http://www.wada-ama.org/en/dynamic.ch2?pageCategory.id=754; http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126983.800-cheat-test-turns-athletes-blood-into-a-passport.html .


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that it is very close to being able to implement the long awaited “Athlete Passport” system. It is hoped that the passport will provide testers with a lifelong “biological fingerprint” of competitors to compare drug-samples against and will be a key component in the central ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System) Database. More details of ADAMS can be found here: http://www.uksport.gov.uk/pages/adams/


Any anomalies in blood chemistry, such as raised haemoglobin levels (associated with EPO abuse) or other biological disturbances would then allow further tests to be conducted and potential cheats identified at a much earlier stage than at present.


The idea has been pioneered by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the Federation Internationale de Skiing (FIS) and the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), and further trials of the scheme will take place at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin this summer.


Although the UCI has been at the forefront of piloting the passport scheme, and last year took 8,300 blood samples from 804 cyclists, its efforts are not currently being supported by WADA, after the UCI President sued WADA following a row over Floyd Landis’s appeal against his doping ban. http://www.uci.ch/Modules/ENews/ENewsDetails.asp?id=NjE5MQ&MenuId=MjI0NQ&BackLink=%2Ftemplates%2FUCI%2FUCI5%2Flayout.asp%3FMenuId%3DMjI0NQ

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Suspended Italian footballers may get last minute reprieve

March 12, 2009

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Source: http://www.tas-cas.org/en/infogenerales.asp/4-3-3042-1092-4-1-1/5-0-1092-15-1-1/ ; http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=622094&&cc=5739 ; http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/european_football/article5671739.ece; http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/front_page/7907742.stm ; http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/gordonfarquhar/2009/02/wada_not_wavering_on_whereabou.html

The full text of CAS 2008/A.1557 WADA v. CONI, FIGC, Daniele Mannini & Davide Possanzini can be downloaded from here:  http://www.tas-cas.org/recent-decision

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will now re-open the proceedings of the two Italian footballers (Daniele Mannini & Davide Possanzini) who last month were awarded a one year competition ban after arriving late for a drug test in 2007. Both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Italian Professional Football Association (FIGC) had indicated that they would not stand in the way of any appeal.

In the original case both Mannini and Possanzini were banned for 15 days by the Italian Olympic Committee, however this suspension was appealed by WADA, who argued that the usual punishment was 2 yrs. The court accepted this, but reduced the ban to one year to reflect the fact that the players bore “no significant fault” for providing a late sample.

The incident happened on 1st December 2007, when both players were ordered to attend a drugs test to give blood and urine samples. En route to the test though, they were ordered by both the President of Brescia and the Brescian coach to attend a post-match dressing down following the club’s third successive defeat and this detour made them 10-25 minutes later for the drugs test.  The door to the dressing room was subsequently blocked from the inside which prevented the doping control officers from gaining access to keep the players in visual control.

Indeed, Michel Platini (President of UEFA) hit out at the original decision at a news conference, stating that:  “This decision was simply scandalous. Football has to find a way to fight back against Wada, who do as they please, when they please. It’s the same with the ‘whereabouts’ rule. I totally support the recommendation not to follow Wada’s code. Wada can find footballers for 330 days out of the year. I think they have a right to be left alone for one month each summer.”

Unsurprisingly, WADA responded to these (somewhat naive) comments arguing that for any testing to be effective, you can’t just take 30 days out and call it a ‘holiday’. As Gordon Farquhar (the BBC’s Sports News & Olympic Correspondent) says, all sports are equal but some sports (*cough*  football and tennis  *cough*) think they are more equal than others!

For what it’s worth, I hope that the two Brescian footballers escape a ban as they were only following team orders, and that any penalty should be on Brescia rather than specific individuals. That said I think football has to decide whether it follows ALL of WADA’s rules or goes its own way, it can’t pick and choose the rules it likes, and discards the rules it doesn’t.

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Matt Stevens starts 2yr Drug Ban

March 6, 2009


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/my_club/bath/7915732.stm; http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/jan/22/matt-stevens-bath-england-suspension;  

Matt Stevens (England prop) has received a two-year drugs ban until January 18th 2011, after testing positive for a prohibited substance (though to be cocaine) during a routine urine sample, last December. The ban covers all aspects of rugby (playing / coaching / even promoting the sport). Stevens has opted not to appeal and instead accepts “full responsibility” for his actions.


He is quitting his club rugby side, Bath, to spare them any further embarrassment, and instead will focus attention on opening a new cafe (Jika Jika) this summer in Bath.


Martin Johnson (England Rugby Manager) has commented that: Matt has admitted that he has a problem and is seeking help. We support him in that but all rugby players must understand that they are responsible for their actions, and that includes lifestyle choices.”


As Cocaine is also a Class A recreational drug, Stevens is lucky that he is not facing imprisonment or criminal charges. Lets just hope that the new cafe is not like the ones that you can find in Amsterdam!


See the Sky Sports Interview here: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/video/Matt-Stevens-England-Rugby-Player-Admits-Taking-Drugs-And-Faces-Two-Year-Ban/Video/200901315207503?lid=VIDEO_15207503_MattStevensEnglandRugbyPlayerAdmitsTakingDrugsAndFacesTwoYearBan&lpos=searchresults

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Legal opinion on Whereabouts system published

March 5, 2009


Source: http://www.wada-ama.org/en/newsarticle.ch2?articleId=3115769

“WADA has now published online a legal opinion released in November 2008 by legal experts from the law firm Covington & Burling LLP about the compatibility of WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration & Management System (ADAMS) [the ‘whereabouts’ system] with European data protection laws.”

You can download a .pdf of this legal opinion here: http://www.wada-ama.org/en/newsarticle.ch2?articleId=3115769

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Interpol & WADA join forces

March 5, 2009


Source: http://www.wada-ama.org/rtecontent/document/Interpol.pdf

WADA and Interpol are now to formally combine their resources to tackle doping in sport. Both organisations have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding and will work together to develop best practice in doping, trafficking and evidence gathering.


“While doping is often viewed as a crime committed by an individual, the reality is that when an athlete takes illegal performance-enhancing drugs, this is just one piece in a larger network of criminality,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Noble, “Our collaboration with WADA will provide a strong basis to encourage the implementation of the relevant legislation in all INTERPOL member countries, which in turn will enable law enforcement bodies to efficiently fight the trafficking of doping substances.”


With all this talk of relevant legislation in member countries, maybe we will see a sport-specific doping statute in the UK?

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