Friday, May 23, 2008
They said it: Declarations of drug-testing independence
The past 20 years of drug testing in sports have been a long, sometimes strange, trip, especially at the Olympics. The people charged with the struggle against performance-enhancing drugs certainly have made progress since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was disqualified several days after he won the gold medal in the 100 meters. But do those people sound any different now than they did back then? You be the judge. Here's an over-the-years smattering of they-said-it quotes from Olympics officials, drug-testing experts and the occasional athlete, starting in 1988.
1988: SEOUL, Summer Games
Samaranch in '88: 'We are winning the battle.'
"If the athletes think they are smart enough to fool us, I think they have to think twice." -- Dr. Park Jong Sei, technical director of the Olympic Games Doping Control Center, Sept. 14, 1988, Boston Globe.
"There are ways to create a testing program in which athletes would have 24 or 48 hours' notice that a test would be given, the same way it sometimes works with exams in college. We could make it work." -- Dr. Robert Voy, chief medical examiner for the USOC, Sept. 15, 1988, The New York Times.
"I think we can say we are winning the battle against doping." -- IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, in the wake of Ben Johnson testing positive at Seoul.
1992: CALGARY, Winter Games
"It's a good test." -- Prince Alexandre de Merode, IOC medical director, discussing a new analysis designed to expose blood dopers, Feb. 7, 1992, The New York Times.
1992: BARCELONA, Summer Games
"Many people thought it was a black day for the Olympic movement. But we think it was an important day, a crucial day for the future of the Olympics. Because from that day on, we had national Olympic committees, the international federations and many governments joining us to fight against doping. I think we are winning this battle now." -- Samaranch, discussing Ben Johnson testing positive, July 15, 1992.
"I have a generally optimistic outlook. I think there's steady progress on all fronts. One view is that we're making gains. The other view is that the athletes are getting smarter. I suppose the truth is somewhere in between." -- Dr. Don Catlin, among the world's pre-eminent anti-doping scientists, July 15, 1992.
1994: LILLEHAMMER, Winter Games
Rogge in '96: 'The gap is being closed fairly fast.'
"The International Olympic Committee's fight against blood doping has hit problems. Prince Alexandre de Merode, its medical chief, said that reliable tests to detect the drug EPO were still a long way off and may not even be ready for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta." -- Reuters report.
1996: ATLANTA, Summer Games
"We estimate it can detect three times the number of cases than before, maybe even more." -- Merode, discussing a $600,000 machine employed by the Olympic lab, July 19, 1996, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Let me just laugh slowly. Instead of having a shadowy area of 80 percent, we have a clearly lit zone of 80 or 90 percent and a small crescent that is still dark. And that's when people tell us, 'Your tests are worth nothing.'" -- Merode, responding to suggestions that as many as 75 percent of Olympians are doping, July 17, 1996.
"The gap is being closed fairly fast. The scientists have discovered how to trace EPO but the problem is from a legal point of view. The test must be absolutely foolproof." -- Jacques Rogge, vice chairman of the IOC medical commission, July 18, 1996, Orange County Register.
"I feel this is a new era in testing." -- Catlin, July 17, 1996, Chicago Tribune.
1998: NAGANO, Winter Games
"Hopefully, this will prove to the rest of the world that we're doing everything we possibly can to create a safe environment." -- Dick Schultz, USOC executive director, announcing new approaches and technology that he stated would give the United States the world's strongest anti-drug policy, Nov. 1, 1997, Orlando Sentinel.
2000: SYDNEY, Summer Games
"I think we are probably as clean as possible -- and definitely far more than in the past, because we have closed the loophole of the EPO test, and EPO was definitely the most powerful and the most widely abused drug in sport." -- Rogge, Sept. 11, 2000, The Australian.
Shorter in '02: 'We're very close to turning the corner.'
"It's going to be totally, totally ineffective." -- Dr. Peter Larkins, member of the Sydney Games medical committee, regarding the aforementioned EPO test, Sept. 15, 2000, Orange County Register.
"If this is not the cleanest Olympic Games, I don't know what is or what will be. The thing I like about this most is that they [the IOC] have taken the initiative to stop the madness." -- Jon Drummond, American sprinter, Sept. 11, 2000.
2002: SALT LAKE CITY, Winter Games
"I think the athletes sense that we're very close to turning the corner." -- Frank Shorter, chairman, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and former Olympic distance runner, May 5, 2002, San Diego Union-Tribune.
"It's terribly important to get drugs out of sports. I know the perception is that we're always behind. But if we're not getting anywhere, I'm going to quit. I've got better things to do." -- Catlin, May 5, 2002, Philadelphia Inquirer.
2004: ATHENS, Summer Games
"We've done everything possible to send a clean team to Athens. I believe it's a clean team. Am I saying that 100 percent of America's athletes are going to be clean there? No. But I think we and the [U.S. Olympic Committee] have done everything possible to send the cleanest athletes." -- Terry Madden, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Aug. 10, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle.
Pound in '04: 'We're getting better and better.'
"If there are people using it, we should be able to find them." -- Dick Pound, chairman, World Anti-Doping Agency, claiming a valid test exists to detect human growth hormone, Aug. 13, 2004, Denver Post.
"Paradoxically, this is an encouraging sign that the fight against doping is gaining ground and that is it becoming increasingly hard to cheat." -- Rogge, regarding BALCO and the news that athletes from four sports had been banned for doping four days before the start of the Athens Games, Aug. 9, 2004.
2006: TURIN, Winter Games
"We won't know until we test, but clearly, people have to know we're getting better and better at testing and the chances of getting caught are better. We know people try to beat the tests by stuffing a balloon with other people's urine up their ass. We know about that and we're able to find it. So the room to maneuver is quite a lot less. We've got a test for EPO. We'll get better at [human growth hormone]." -- Pound, in the wake of the discovery of a designer steroid in Canada, May 27, 2006, Montreal Gazette.
2008: BEIJING, Summer Games (Aug. 8-24)
"We are better now at detecting over longer periods and those that believed in certain things there, if they wish to continue to believe in that, they will do so at their peril." -- John Fahey, WADA president, announcing an HGH test, May 1, 2008, The Australian.
"You can still dope like mad, get the benefits, and go to the games and test clean." -- Peter Sonksen, a British scientist who is one of the world's leading anti-doping experts and who has developed a test for human growth hormone, May 7, 2008, McClatchy Newspapers.
"Well, [the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority] is very pleased to confirm that a test for growth hormone is eminent." -- Richard Ings, ASADA head, May 20, 2008, ABC.
"They're more likely than ever to be caught in Beijing than at any other Olympics." -- Fahey, on the prospects of HGH users being exposed, May 20, 2008, ABC.
Compiled by Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn.