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Ben Johnson: "the Public Don't Care If Athletes Take Drugs"


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The public don't care if athletes take drugs ; Olympic champ Gatlin facing life ban SAYS DISGRACED No 1 BEN JOHNSON;

LEE WEST. The Daily Mirror. London (UK): Jul 31, 2006. pg. 53

BEN JOHNSON last night told athletics bosses to forget about catching drug cheats, as Olympic 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin was fighting for his career.

Johnson, stripped of Olympic sprint gold in Seoul in 1988 for using a banned substance, claimed the public just wanted to see fast times and did not care if these were achieved illegally.

The Canadian spoke out after Gatlin, who is also 100m world champion and joint world record holder, was facing a lifetime following a positive test for testosterone. His B sample had also proved positive, it was revealed yesterday.

It is the same substance which brought disgrace to the Tour de France this week after winner Floyd Landis was found to have it in his system.

"The spectators don't care," said Johnson. "The sponsors don't care. All they want to see is the world's fastest man - if he is running in 9.7 seconds, 9.8, whatever it is.

"That's the way life is and people have to come to terms with that, live with it and just enjoy track and field."

Gatlin is the first Olympic 100m champion since Johnson to fail a drug test while holding the greatest of all sprint titles. Johnson was eventually banned for life from the sport when he failed a second drug test. Gatlin faces the same prospect.

Five years ago Gatlin was found to have used amphetamines but was cleared after claiming he took drugs to help an attention deficit disorder.

The American also insisted he needs medicine to control other problems. "I have bad allergies.. I have to make sure everything I take is cleared," said Gatlin.

He shares the world record of 9.77secs with Asafa Powell of Jamaica, a time he ran in Qatar, in May - a month after he had failed the test.

Gatlin will face a US Anti-Doping Agency inquiry and joins a long list of sprinters who have tested positive, from Johnson in 1988, to British runners Linford Christie and Dwain Chambers.

Clearly his word is as credible as his athletics career.

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Beware knock on door as Big Brother opens new front to war on drugs

COMMENT

Patrick Smith

August 01, 2006

BEN JOHNSON got himself a headline. People want to see athletes run fast and don't care if they are using performance enhancing drugs to do it, according to the Canadian. Last time Ben made the news he finished third to a trotter and a 17-year-old thoroughbred. Stanozolol Ben's got a credibility problem.

People watch sport to be astonished, not duped. Floyd Landis and Justin Gatlin are charged with cheating the world. They have tested positive to elevated levels of testosterone. The Tour de France winner and the Olympic champion are con men.

Sports like athletics and cycling are running and peddling out of good will. Every time a positive drug test is announced WADA heavy Dick Pound thumps the desk and says it isn't good enough and that the war on drugs in sport will continue.

If the winners of such prestigious and significant titles as the Tour de France and the Olympic 100 metres dash are boosting their performances by using drugs we are entitled to know whether Pound's war is winnable. Or at the very least if new strategies are required. It might just be that the chemists are self-medicating because nobody appears in danger of catching them.

The man charged with keeping Australian sport clean is Richard Ings, chairman and chief executive officer of ASADA, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. He has an annual budget of $12 million and a directive from the federal Government to ensure Australian sport is drug free.

If Australia is to avoid its own Landis and Gatlin then it is very much in the hands of Ings.

ASADA officially took its first breath in March, replacing the Australian Sports Drug Agency. The mission for the new authority is grand if not impossible - to eliminate doping altogether. With the new body has come a new front to the war. Far from waiting for cheats to show up in drug tests, Ings has launched a campaign to hunt them down.

"We have people knocking on doors, asking questions, following leads today," Ings told The Australian yesterday. If it sounds dramatic that's only because that's the way Ings wants it. The war on drugs in sport in Australia has changed.

ASADA will perform 4200 tests this year but that alone will not stop cheating. In fact, it can't. Athletes can now use drugs and methods that are undetectable. Other drugs remain in the system so briefly that it would be nothing but a fluke if an athlete was to be caught.

"Bodies that have their main focus on testing need to change. They need to bring in new methodologies and new tactics to deal with the reality of sophisticated doping today," Ings said.

"How do you detect drugs that are undetectable? That is the premise for the launch of ASADA with its extensive new powers of investigations and presenting cases at sporting tribunals."

To understand how broad the battle must become you only have to look at the eight ways it is possible to violate the WADA code. Positive test, use or attempted use of a prohibited drug, refusing to provide a sample, tampering with the drug protocols, possession, trafficking and administration of a prohibited substance. The eighth is a catch-all clause: failure to comply. Only the first three directly relate to testing. The other five can only be discovered through investigation.

"ASADA will always have a testing program and it will always be very important to us but our new focus is on investigations. It means working with other government organisations - the federal and state police forces, it's working with Customs, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), and working with state medical boards to develop a holistic, integrated approach to eradicating drugs in sport," Ings said.

"The lines between sports and drug use are now being blurred. Abroad there are examples such as Balco of persons distributing prohibited substances to athletes across multiple sports.

"Australian sport is not immune to this type of threat. To protect the integrity of Australian sport we now need sophisticated systems of investigation that view drug use as a whole-of-sport issue and assertively apply cross-sport measures to detect doping violations that may be undetectable through testing alone.

"We have a comprehensive ability to share information both ways, between ASADA as the focal point for driving drug free sport and other government agencies that have a similar brief to stop the distribution of these drugs. We forecast that investigations will be ASADA's driving force for achieving pure performance in Australian sport."

The potential for ASADA to dig deep is vast if you collect all the powers available to organisations like Customs, police and the TGA. To ensure it is best placed to make best use of these connections, ASADA has its own team of investigators.

Ings has engaged specialist forensic experts to interrogate all information that comes into the possession of ASADA. Emails, financial statements, and other transactions are all noted, tracked down and cross referenced.

"It is all part of our assertive approach to deter, detect and sanction athletes and support staff who are breaking the rules," Ings said.

He has commissioned investigations into old court cases that might have involved possession, distribution or trafficking of steroids and other banned substances.

"Where there are persons who through the courts have been found guilty of distribution of prohibited substances, we want to know if they did business with any athletes or athlete support personnel," Ings said.

Cold Case is not just a TV show.

ASADA has also set up an anti-doping hotline where information can be left anonymously. Ings said that since the publicity that came with the Wendell Sailor suspension, the phone line has been busy.

"Our guys are running around like crazy at the moment. Chasing down leads, knocking on doors, interviewing people, building networks of informants. People are coming forward giving us quality tips," Ings said.

"Of our budget we will spend 50 per cent in the area of detection. We can get an investigator on somebody's doorstep anywhere within 12 hours of receiving credible information."

Once ASADA has evidence, he has instructed his enforcement team they must extract the appropriate penalty. "Fight and win" is the motto he has commissioned for them. Later this month ASADA will present the results of its first investigation - the possible use of drugs in weightlifting.

While testing remains critical to drug detection, Ings has moved away from the philosophy of random testing.

"We fish where the fish are," he said. "So we are target testing. When you are dealing with drugs that are difficult to detect then random testing is a waste of time. We are maximising the chance of finding athletes who may be using drugs."

So this is the new Australian war on drugs in sport. It had better work. Only when sport is running on empty will it be running with the unconditional good will of the people.

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I am rely ashame of Jonshon right now. What he is saying is just wrong. What kind of message would it be sending to yought if everyone at the Olympics would be doped? Should the medal standing be decided by witch contry hase the best drug lab?

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Remember the French police action taken during the Tour de France in 1988? As far as I know, the performance enhancing drugs involved (EPO) are not illegal substances, just banned in the sport. So the raids on team hotels and so on were maybe a little over the top. But they did get me thinking about the whole issue.

Maybe the way to clamp down on drug cheats is to actually criminalise them. I'm only speaking for the UK here. Anyone who fails a dope test in his or her sport whilst competing under the flag of Great Britain (or England, Wales, Scotland etc) should be considered a criminal. If they have been publicly funded to the tune of one penny, then they should also be guilty of fraud, and face imprisonment rather than simply a career break.

And it almost goes without saying, but I'm all for a total life ban on competing for one's country again in any sport, after a single offence.

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Remember we do enforce a lifetime Olympic ban in Briain and are one of the very few nations in the world to do so. I personally think we should remove that sanction, as it only handicaps us.

I am also not in favour of a lifetime ban for a first offence. I would increase the two year ban to four years and then impose a life ban for a second offence.

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I would rather be clean and at a disadvantage with a clear conscience than cheat to win.

I would rather Dwain Chambers never showed his face again in a British vest, in any competition.

I would rather we sacrificed one or two medals and retain our right to pass judgement on other nations who are not doing enough to weed out the cheats. How can we speak out when Chambers is put in a championship relay squad just weeks after being omitted for the European Cup?

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That stance is like the manager of a football team telling his players not to dive because they'll be able to judge and sneer at the opposition who do and win. Why should we disadvantage ourselves when the rest of the world does not? It seems a pretty outdated attitude.

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AACHEN, Germany, Aug 24 AP - Two of Germany's biggest television stations are signing broadcast contracts that allow them to back out if a doping scandal erupts in a sport.

The publicly owned ARD and ZDF signed a three-year contract with Germany's Equestrian Federation on Wednesday that contains the clause. Two days ago, they reached the same agreement with the handball federation.

The two stations, whose far-ranging sports broadcasts include the Olympics and World Cup, hope to fight for a cleanup in sports with the new contracts. They are planned for all 32 German sports federations, including cycling and athletics.

This year, sport has been rocked repeatedly by doping scandals. This year's Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis, and athletics stars Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin are among those who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

AP

This is one of the better suggestions in the war on doping that I've seen. If anything would put the various IFs on notice that they have to move heaven and earth to keep their sports clean, this is the type of threat that could work.

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The guy who provided Johnson with his drugs in '88 died this past week:

Clicky Clicky!

I think we are finally at the point in the U.S. that there is going to be some major public and press backlash. People are becoming sick of the Barry Bonds, Justin Gatlins, Tim Montgomerys, Marion Jones (who - btw - tested postive again recently) Floyd Landis, etc.

Personally, at Bejing, I would like to see every American athlete banned from peeing during the entire games into anything but a specimen bag! :D

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