Tag Archives: Doping in biathlon

Meldonium Madness!

melodium

Just to be clear before you start reading the main article Biathlon23 writes clean! Unless WADA have added alcohol and chocolate to the banned list! 😉

Meldonium, not to be confused with a melodium which is a musical instrument, is the latest drug to be banned by WADA. The World Anti-Doping Agency decided to ban it in September 2015 and it was officially added to the list on the 1st of January 2016. After which date athletes from many sports tested positive for its use. Biathlon was affected significantly with 4 biathletes having positive tests for the drug.

What exactly is Meldonium and why was it only banned this year? The drug which is also known as mildronate is principally used to treat ischaemia. Ischaemia, for those of you who aren’t doctors, is a lack of blood flow to parts of the body including the heart. Therefore Meldonium is often taken to treat angina or heart failure. As we have seen with the most famous case involving Maria Sharapova people have been taking it for a long time, in her case over 10 years. WADA had been monitoring the drug for a year before taking the decision to ban it.

The drug itself was made in Latvia and is available across the Baltic counties and Russia. It was originally intended for animals! It is not approved for use in Europe or America. You may be surprised at the amount of athletes across so many sports who are able to compete at such a high level with angina and heart failure but it turns out that’s probably not what they are taking it for! The fact that it increases blood flow around the body means that if an athlete is taking it they can improve their exercise capacity. That means they can train more and recover quicker. A distinct advantage over other athletes.

The reason that WADA decided to look into the use of Meldonium was because they were finding it so frequently in athletes samples and so began to monitor it. In biathlon the first to be found with a positive sample was Artem Tyshchenko from the Ukraine. He was followed by fellow Ukrainian Olga Abramova, then Russia’s Eduard Laytpov and finally by Romania’s Eva Tofalvi.

You would imagine that is the end of the story. They got caught, they get banned and we move on. Not so in this case as we have had athletes claiming that they stopped taking the drug before the 1st of January therefore breaking no rules. It all comes down to how long the drug remains in your system after you have stopped taking it.

WADA have stated that “cases where the concentration is below 1 µg/ml and the test was taken before the 1st of March 2016 are compatible with an intake prior to January 2016.” This has led to the lifting of the provisional suspension of both Tyshchenko and Latypov as this applied to both of their positive tests. However they are still required to explain why the substance was found in their samples.

In general the IBU seem to be doing a decent job in testing and finding possible cheats. Other winter sports have hardly found any cases of Meldonium use. Cross-country, alpine, snowboarding and all the others haven’t found many, if any, positive cases of Meldonium use. This suggests that either these other winter sportspeople are clean or much more likely they just aren’t getting caught.

Unfortunately sport is always going to be plagued by cheats. As long as they are caught and punished that helps me to believe that the vast majority of biathletes compete clean. It is getting harder and harder for us poor spectators to trust sportspeople nowadays though. With more money and rewards everything becomes about winning so maybe they would do well to remember that sport is not only about success. It’s about fun, being healthly, self improvement, setting a good example for others, learning skills and did I mention fun! Not everyone can win, even cheats will lose to other cheats. So maybe just try and enjoy your sport because it’s really not worth risking your health and career taking some random drug that might help you win but probably won’t! Even if it does help you deep down you know your success is undeserved. So please stop the MADNESS – Meldonium or any other performance enhancing drug!!!

Biathlon23 would like to point out that although not currently on the WADA banned list, the use of a melodium is not recommended as a way to make you into a better biathlete! 😉

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter! Like biathlon23 on Facebook!

Advertisements

Doping is for dopes!

doping

Isn’t it funny how the word “dope” has two meanings that go together really well. One meaning is a drug and the other is an idiot. They complement each other perfectly in the case of sport. You have to be pretty stupid to take performance enhancing drugs and think you can get away with it these days.

Unfortunately it occurs in biathlon but it doesn’t seem to be as big a problem as it has been in sports like cycling and athletics. The recent discovery of 3 positive tests before the Olympics has again brought the issue of doping into sharp focus. It isn’t the first time biathletes have been caught doping and I am sorry to say it won’t be the last. However I believe it is grossly unfair to name the accused before their B samples have been tested and especially when no official statements have been released naming them.Even though names have been released on the internet and one athlete has confirmed it they are innocent until proven guilty by the IBU Anti-Doping Panel. I firmly believe that the vast majority of the biathletes are clean but when you hear about these cases it always makes you wonder a little bit.

It does surprise me that biathletes who cheat think it will do them any good. I mean it might make you stronger, faster and give you more stamina but if you can’t shoot all the ski speed in the world won’t help you. Drugs are never going to turn you into the best athlete ever. They may benefit you in small increments but if you are considering taking them you probably aren’t good enough to be at the top anyway. At best you could qualify for the World Cup races or your national team or maybe push youself up 10-20 places from where you are. If however it does take you to the top you will be under intense scrutiny from WADA (The World Anti-Doping Agency) as they always test the winners, for example Emil Hegle Svendsen revealed that he has been tested 7 times in 2 weeks,and you are highly likely to get found out. Then your career is over and you will always be under suspicion if you return from a ban. All the hard work you have put in (because the drugs alone don’t make you win) will be a waste of time.

However playing devil’s advocate you can see why people can be tempted into it. For example if you have worked really hard and can only attain a certain level drug free the desperation to improve and do well can be all consuming. Athletes are a breed apart and basically give their whole lives up to their sport. Not succeeding can be crushing and if you are not mentally able to handle that the temptation is there to cheat. If like now the Olympics are coming up it makes people more obsessed with qualifying for them. Recent high profile examples in other sports prove that even people you might not expect can be so desperate that they will do anything to win. There is no excuse however and I think the majority of biathletes give their everything and if it’s not good enough they just accept it and do the very best they can cleanly.

It is a pity that sport is blighted by the curse of doping but as long as chemicals exist that can enhance your performance there will be those who give into weakness and take them. All we can do is continue to test and expose those who do so and educate and encourage all athletes not to do it. The risks athletes take in general can cause a lot of harm to their bodies. Elite athletes are damaging themselves by pushing their bodies to the limit on a daily basis and so adding to that by doping is very dangerous. Your sports career is very short in relation to your entire life and so taking health risks can ruin the rest of it. By their very nature these drugs are illegal and so you don’t know what the long term affects are because they are not rigorously tested like medicines.

It is always sad when a sport is damaged by athletes who dope and it generally reflects badly on the reputation of the sport and it’s athletes. However you must remember that it is a small minority who dope and generally they get caught if not straight away then in the fullness of time they will be discovered. WADA seems to be doing a good job keeping on top of the biathletes with rigourous testing and by catching those who do take drugs. Just remember anything you win or gain by cheating is not real and certainly undeserved. However tempting success maybe be in the end you will suffer the most because doping is for dopes!

For more info on WADA see their website:
http://www.wada-ama.org/‎
For updates on the doping scandal check the IBU website:
http://www.biathlonworld.com

Follow @biathlon23 on Twitter!
Like biathlon23 on Facebook!