BLOOD TESTING FOR ERGOGENIC AIDS

I am addressing the topic of blood testing for ergogenic aids. I know too much about this topic through my many years in professional powerlifting and Olympic lifting not to have a realistic view as an athlete and for several years as a coach.

Do the athlete’s want to be tested? From my experience, most of the time, athletes would accept the idea of testing only if three things are going to happen first. If not probably not because they are always worried about inaccuracies of testing devices.

1.    What metabolite is the testing device equipped to detect?
2.    When are we going to be tested?
3.    Is everyone going to be tested under the same procedures?

If the athlete’s do not feel like they were given “fair” warning or they do not feel the test were of “quality”, there is no way that they feel comfortable with the testing. Do blood test work? Sure. Could they be more accurate? Sure. Is blood test limiting? Yes. Try testing on the international level of weightlifting. The testing is so badly monitored and the quality so horrible that the athletes “wince” to the thought of testing and other countries paying off testing boards to gain advantages or to render disqualifications of important competitors.

If the testing devices would narrow down 10 to 20 metabolites from the hardest drugs and enhancers and give an accurate result, testing would be more reliable, but you would still come across “false negatives” as stated by Browne, LaChance, & Pipe. The test would also have to be NOT be cost prohibitive.

No matter how accurate and announced the test are presented, there are always that small group of athletes willing to ride the lightning on getting caught and trying new drugs.

When a test comes out to test any inaccuracy in blood serum contents of an individual, we might have a chance, but then we would have to test twice (one 12 weeks ahead of competition and one a few days before competition). The ole mighty dollar would definitely prohibit this thought.

I don’t have definitive solution, just an experienced opinion.

References:

1. Brown A, Lachance V, Pipe, A. The ethics of blood testing as an element of doping control in sport. Med. Sci. Sports Exer. 1999; 31 (4): 497-501.

Second, if an athlete becomes stronger, faster or more skilled in any way through the use of an ergogenic aid, should the drug, the athlete, or both be banned from competition?

I compare this question to some property that I owned several years ago. For conversation sake, let’s say I bought the property for $10.00. Well, after several years of having to remove crackheads and drug dealers off this downtown property, my property was appraised at $7.00. Of course I was disappointed, but the city informed me that all property values had declined as result of drugdeals in the area and drugdealers setting up shop on local properties at night. Needless to say, I sold the property to the city because they needed it for a new convention center.

I learned one thing, illegal drugs devalue any place that they rest upon. I strongly feel that this is also the case in sports. The more illegal drugs are used in a sport, the less value the sport becomes because it takes away from the benevolence of the sport and true competition. Anyone caught with a drug that has been agreed upon to be illegal, should be disqualified. If they perform better because of these drugs, yes, they should be disqualified.

Now, if an aid such as whey protein has been agreed upon to be legal and is used by the athlete to gain performance advantages, by all means, I think the use is ok with one underlying exception….let’s make sure it is safe for the integrity of the sport and the athlete.

In short, if everyone can play by the rules and the rules keep the well being of the athlete in mind and the promotion of the integrity of the sport in tact, I see no problems with certain aids to enhance performance. If you break the rules, you don’t compete. If the substances are not safe and integrity driven, prohibit the substance.

Just a note to end on, how many studies can you find out that attribute the sole cause of death of an athlete or the onset of cancer due to the use of anabolic or androgenic steroids? Steroids promote an abnormal growth of cells, right? Cancer is defined as an abnormal growth of cells, right?

Thank you.

Matt Poe