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Athletes not deterred by drug tests
Survey shows Australian athletes don't believe the current system catches cheats.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2008 13:58 GMT

Australia's Tamsyn Lewis won gold for the
womens 800 metres at the World Indoor
Championships in Valencia  [GALLO/GETTY]

Up to 30 percent of Australia's world-class athletes believe they could get away with using performance-enhancing drugs.

The results of the 2007 survey by Curtin University in association with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) were reported by The Australian newspaper.

"It is perhaps of some concern that a substantial proportion (30 percent) of 'Olympic/world' athletes consider that they are unlikely to be caught if using doping out of competition, and even 7 per cent consider that they are unlikely to be caught if using doping during competition,'' an ASADA report on the survey said.

The survey was noted briefly in the ASADA's annual report, where the only finding mentioned was that the proportion of athletes who might consider doping had dropped from 16 to 8 per cent in three years, reported The Australian, which obtained the full findings under a Freedom of Information search.

The report showed more than 90 per cent of athletes across all levels felt using performance-enhancing drugs was morally and ethically wrong.

But among Olympic and world championship level athletes, as many disagreed as agreed, 44 per cent each, that using performance-enhancing drugs and technologies was unnecessary.

The world-class athletes surveyed endorsed tough penalties for doping, with 72 per cent advocating a life ban for a second offence.

More testing needed

ASADA chairman Richard Ings said the survey results indicate that spot testing alone will not fix the problem of drugs in sport.

"On the back of Marion Jones, who was systematically doping for many years, was tested 160 times, and tested clean every time while doping, it's clear that relying on testing alone does not send a sufficient deterrent to athletes to not be involved in doping,'' Ings said.

"The challenge for anti-doping agencies is not to keep relying only on testing but to introduce new programs, new measures. And for ASADA in particular we've introduced long-term storage of samples.

"We can keep samples now for up to eight years and go back and test them with new technology to close the Marion Jones loophole where she got away with doping for up to seven years.''

Australian Olympic Committee chairman John Coates said the survey results reflect pessimism among athletes about the capacity of anti-doping agencies to catch cheats, and he supported ASADA's long-term sample storage for future testing.

"The message that's coming from ASADA is, 'if we don't get you now, we'll get you later','' Coates was quoted saying.

"Once there's a realisation of that, those percentages that you've referred to might come down.''

Source:
Agencies
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