August 30, 2014

WADA Funds False Consensus Effect Study to Catch Dopers

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) spends considerable money funding research aimed at catching athletes who use prohibited performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). WADA has always been on the losing end of an ongoing cat-and-mouse game. Anti-doping agencies are faced with several emerging doping methods such as synthetic blood doping, gene doping and designer steroids created via dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC).

A recently published study in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology suggests that WADA has opened the door to social analysis and psychological profiling to catch steroids users and users of other banned substances. The WADA-funded researchers hope to establish a reliable indicator of self-reported use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The proposed anti-doping tool would ask the athlete various questions about their own self-reported doping, hypothetical doping scenarios, and the doping behavior of other athletes. If the athlete’s responses to the questionnaire fit the psychological profile of a doper, then this might represent evidence that athlete is doping even if the athlete does not admit to doping! The research is based on the False Consensus Effect from social psychology research.

[Read more...]

Anti-Doping Laboratory Equipment is Big Business at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

The China Anti-Doping Agency (CADA) spent approximately $10 million dollars and six years to create a new state of the art laboratory specifically for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Roughly one quarter of that budget ($2.7 million) was used to purchase 60-80 various laboratory testing instruments. The primary beneficiaries of these purchases were the analytical laboratory equipment manufacturers Thermo Fisher Scientific, Agilent Technologies and Phenomenex (“Drugs at the Starting Line: The Olympics begin with new antidoping lab and measures to keep athletes honest,” August 11). [Read more...]

Cyclist Marta Bastianelli Uses Benfluorex Unaware of Similarities to Banned Substance

Italian cyclist Marta Bastianelli tested positive for a banned stimulant. She tested positive for the diet drug fenfluramine in a doping control conducted by the International Cycling Union (UCI) at the “Under-23 World Championships” in Verbania, Italy on July 5, 2008.

Bastianelli claims she never knowingly ingested a banned substance. She admitted to her obsession with weight control stating “I wanted to lose weight, like any girl.” She consulted with her doctor to find weight loss products that were not on the WADA banned substance list. Her doctor prescribed the drug Benfluorex. Benfluorex is an anti-diabetic drug that improves insulin sensitivity and glycemic control; as such it is often prescribed for weight loss. Benfluorex is not on the WADA banned substance list but it is structurally similar to Fenfluramine (which is listed) [Read more...]

Did Jessica Hardy’s Advocare Supplements Contain Clenbuterol?

Swimmer Jessica Hardy has withdrawn from the United States Olympic Team bound for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after testing positive for low levels of the long-acting beta-2 adrenergic agonist (LABA) clenbuterol. Hardy maintains that she never knowingly or unintentionally consumed clenbuterol or any other banned susbtance.

The question of why and how clenbuterol appeared in Jessica Hardy’s sample remains a mystery. Was Hardy simply caught doping? Or were the “dietary supplements” used by Hardy contaminated or spiked with the banned substance clenbuterol? The supplement company Advocare was cited as one of the brands of dietary supplements used by Jessica Hardy. [Read more...]

Legality of Anti-Doping Test for Mircera at 2008 Tour de France

The French National Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) has been utlizing a secret new anti-doping test for a previously undetectable performance-enhancing drug during the 2008 Tour de France. Rumors about a test for Mircera started circulating when cyclist Riccardo Ricco failed his doping protocol. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) quickly confirmed the rumors.

WADA gave notice to cyclists competing at the 2008 Tour de France that they were now able to detect the performance enhancing drug Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta), a third generation version of erythropoietin (EPO) belonging to the category of drugs known as Continuous Erythropoeitin Receptor Activators (CERA).

Doping experts concerned with the fairness of the doping protocols administered by WADA-accredited labs were quick to raise questions about the new CERA doping detection methods [Read more...]

Professional Cycling is Synonymous with Doping

Rant’s Daniel Rosen asked the question “Will it ever be possible to have a Tour de France… that is completely free of doping?” I would answer that with a definitive no – not now, not ever. Professional cycling is an extreme sport that is practically synonymous with doping.

Steroid and doping expert Dr. John Hoberman of the University of Texas wrote an article about the Festina scandal at the 1998 Tour de France for me almost ten years ago. Hoberman thought that the public had finally accepted that the Tour de France during a “definitive outing of the Tour as a virtual pharmacy on wheels.”

The Tour debacle has finally made it acceptable to say in public and without provocation what many have known for a long time, namely, that long-distance cycling has been the most consistently drug-soaked sport of the twentieth century. 

Unfortunately, we still have not come to terms with an acknowledgement of the scope of doping in cycling. We continue to entertain incredulous stories that doping in the sport is limited to certain generations of riders or specific geographical areas. We still believe in fairy tales that tell us a dope-free Tour de France is possible. It is not. So what should be done about doping in cycling? [Read more...]

Provigil is Silicon Valley Entrepreneur's Drug of Choice

Provigil (modafinil)

Power blogger Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has been called one of the most powerful and influential figures on the internet by TIME Magazine, Wired Magazine and Forbes. Arrington recently identified the secret pharmaceutical weapon that is the “drug of choice” for Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs and executives – modafinil more commonly known by the trade name Provigil (“How Many Silicon Valley Startup Executives Are Hopped Up On Provigil?,” July 15).

But since the main effect of Provigil is to keep you awake and able to concentrate, a lot of people who get their hands on it use it to be able to work longer hours, even though it has not been deemed safe for that kind of use.

Recreational Provigil user testimonials are all over the web. Not only are people able to work with little or no sleep, the drug has the advantage of spurring weight loss and some users report a general mood enhancing side effect. [Read more...]

Steeplechaser Simon Vroemen Claims Dianabol Would Hurt Performance

Steeplechase Simon Vroemen has tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid Dianabol (metandienone or methandrostenolone) according to Steroid Nation. Vroemen does not know how Dianabol entered his system but suspects it may have been the result of medications he took to treat mononucleosis.

I am always willing to give athletes the benefit of a doubt especially given the lack of fair and reliable doping protocols administered under WADA. But, the statements Vroemen offers in his defense are weak, misleading and wrong.

Simon Vroemen claims that Dianabol would be “counterproductive” for a middle distance runner because it primarily increases muscle mass without a significant increase in strength; furthermore, Vroeman claims Dianabol remains detectable in doping tests for up to nine months after ingested making it unsuitable for any athlete competing in a drug tested competition [Read more...]

Cyclist Jan Ullrich Pays Fine for Defrauding Public by Doping

Since doping is not a crime in Germany, German prosecutors sued cyclist Jan Ullrich for fraud based on evidence of the use of banned blood doping and performance-enhancing drugs (“Jan Ullrich draws 1M euro fine in doping fraud case,” April 12).

Disgraced former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich is to pay out a million euro fine to end a fraud case which German prosecutors have been investigating, Focus news magazine reported on its Web site Saturday.

Prosecutors accused the 1997 Tour de France winner of taking performance-enhancing drugs, leading under German law to fraud charges against the 34-year-old on the basis he deceived the public, sponsors and his team.

The United States does not have laws that specifically criminalize doping in sports. However, the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, passed as a direct result of doping scandals in sports, criminalizes the non-medical uses of anabolic-androgenic steroids. One of the primary objectives for the act has been to combat “cheating” in sports although it has been largely ineffective for this purpose. Instead, the federal government has had some recent success using perjury laws to prosecute athletes who use steroids. Maybe sports fraud prosecutions will join perjury as an additional way of making examples out of “immoral” athletes.

Steroid Source for Elite Track Athletes Working with Federal Investigators

Angel Guillermo Heredia was a major steroid source for elite track and field athletes. He has been working with federal investigators for several years; he has disclosed the names of at least a dozen elite track athletes who won Olympic medals and World Chamionships as well as another dozen elite track stars who have not won Olympic medals (“Witness in Track Doping Case Ready to Name Big Names,” April 13).

Among his clients, Mr. Heredia identified 12 athletes who had won a combined 26 Olympic medals and 21 world championships. Four of the 12 athletes, including Ms. Jones, had been named and barred from competition for illicit drug use. Eight of the 12 — notably, the sprinter Maurice Greene — have never been previously linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

Angel Heredia is a Mexican national who lived in Laredo, Texas and utilized his family connections in Mexico to obtain steroids and other pharmaceuticals for athletes. Heredia explains how easy it is for athletes to use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs and avoid detection. [Read more...]