Even Tug-Of-Warriors Can Be Dopers

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WADA doping report

It may seem like doping is constantly in the news, but a comprehensive report released by the World Anti-Doping Agency last Wednesday showed that very few drug tests come up positive. Just a sliver of samples the organization handled in 2014 produced suspicious findings and only 64 percent of these positive tests ultimately led to a sanction. Ten percent of positive drugs tests were ultimately dismissed because the athlete presented a “therapeutic use exemption,” essentially a doctor’s note saying that the drug was medically necessary, and another 20 percent or so are dropped or the athlete is eventually exonerated. While some people have wondered if anti-doping efforts have become too aggressive — for instance, by going after amateur athletes — the numbers suggest that few athletes ever get caught up in doping charges.

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Cases like Lance Armstrong and theBalco steroid scandal have shown that dopers and their drug dealers work hard to remain a few steps ahead of the tests, so WADA has also focused on intelligence in recent years. The current WADA Code emphasizes these so-called “non-analytical” means for catching dopers, and the new report notes that 231 doping offenses resulted not from drug tests but from detective work. Those cases were based not on positive tests, but evidence such as “evading, refusing or failing to submit a sample; possession and/or trafficking of a prohibited substance; or complicity,” WADA Director General David Howman said in a statement.

If you’ve been following the news, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that Russia tops the leaderboard for doping nations, followed closely by Italy.

NATION NUMBER OF SANCTIONS
Russian federation 148
Italy 123
India 96
Belguim 91
France 91
Turkey 73
Australia 49
China 49
Brazil 46
Republic of Korea 42
Nations with the most (caught) dopers, 2014

SOURCE: WADA

The sports that received the greatest numbers of doping sanctions are the ones you’d expect — track and field, cycling and power sports like weightlifting.

SPORT  NUMBER OF SANCTIONS
Athletics (track & field) 248
Bodybuilding 225
Cycling 168
Weightlifting 143
Powerlifting 116
Soccer 80
Wrestling 56
Boxing 49
Rugby 40
Aquatics 32
Sports with the most (caught) dopers, 2014

SOURCE: WADA

Doping isn’t limited to Olympic sports, and dozens of other sporting groups have signed on to the WADA code. It turns out that cheerleaders are occasionally tempted to give themselves some extra spirit — WADA processed 42 drug tests for the sport of “cheer,” which resulted in one drug sanction. Tug of war also has dirty players (107 drug tests and one sanctioned athlete) — then again, the culture of the game I’ve seen at picnics has always been “win at any cost.” Personally, if I’m ever drowning, I won’t worry about whether the lifeguard who saves me took steroids, but the folks who turned this job into the sport of life saving do care — they did 233 tests and sanctioned four athletes.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/even-tug-of-warriors-take-steroids/

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