29% of surveyed athletes at 2011 World Championships admitted to doping

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Not cool…but common?

I’m not sure what’s more disturbing here.

I have two big problems here.

First, 29% of athletes at the 2011 World Championships admitted in an anonymous survey that they doped in the prior year. Only a fool wouldn’t assume the number of athletes who actually did dope isn’t higher. Not everyone who did is going to admit it, even if they are sure their responses are completely anonymous. That means likely at least 1 out of every 3 athletes who was surveyed actually did dope. Seeing as they could also choose to not answer the question, how many did make that choice not wanting to answer yes?

Second, this does not paint a good picture for either the IAAF or WADA. Why are they so intent on hiding this problem? The problem here is conflict of interest.

The IAAF is essentially in the business of promoting these athletes. If it becomes common knowledge that at least 1/3 of the athletes they are promoting is doping, what do you think that does to their business?

The WADA, on the other hand, is in the business of catching drug cheats. Seems like they should welcome any spotlight on the problem, right? Well, consider this. If less than 2% of drug tests performed at WADA labs are positive while somewhere beyond 30% of athletes are doping in any given year, what does that say about the efficacy of WADA?

I’d say this sport has a problem but let’s be honest. All sports have a problem. Most either don’t even pretend to try to deal with the problem or have just recently begun pretending. Even at the failure rate we see via this study, T&F is still worlds ahead of most other sports. That said, to say this sport is clean just because we’re worlds ahead doesn’t paint an accurate picture.

In my opinion, we shouldn’t be burying our heads in the sand. We should accept reality and push to find a better future. Sadly, there is a lot of room for improvement but the two organizations in charge of pushing toward a better future seem more interested in not letting the full scope of the problem become publicly known than in accepting the current state of things and finding a better way to tackle this problem.

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