Athletics drugs scandal - How should the cheats be punished?

Over the past week stories have been emerging about the widespread use of a new type of steroid called tetrahydrogestinone (THG).

Apparently a US company developed THG as an undetectable steroid for use by athletes. Here’s a BBC story on the drug and its use. It seems that around twenty athletes from this year’s US Olympic trials have tested positive for THG, as has European champion sprinter Dwain Chambers. The US Anti-doping Agency has described the use of THG as being a widespread conspiracy, involving chemists, coaches and athletes.

Given that the Olympics are to be held within a year, what sanctions should athletes found to be using THG face?

Personally I think the magnitude of this scandal requires some life bans. The athletes have been deliberately using a performance-enhancing drug that was previously undetectable. Any coaches implicated should also be banned for life.

The producers/chemists should be charged with violating any applicable FDA regulaitons, for providing a drug for use by humans that has not received regulatory approval.

What do any other dopers think (no pun intended…)

I totally agree, Life Bans. Meaning Life and not just a few years.

The whole of athletics has been compromised by the number of gold medal winners and world record holders who have later failed drugs tests.

Presence of THG should be the determinator, with no defence that you were not aware of it or it was somehow a mistake. Sorry but exactly how can such substances get into your body without somebody in your organisation/team knowingly introducing them?

The latest news I heard is that the test developed for THG has been passed to the Rugy World Cup folks and there are rumours today that mass testing is to be carried out but only post competition. I can only imagine the damage that would do if we get a lot of positives there too. I am not confident that we won’t either…

Watch for a mass of players suddenly developing injuries and being flown home before the tests are carried out.

Yes, there’s a real possbility that rugby could also be tainted by drugs. I’ve heard a couple of dark rumours regarding two High profile New Zealand players, Jonah Lomu and Joeli Vindiri. While neither of them are at the World Cup, both were struck done by mysterious kidney ailments in the mid 90s, said by some to be linked to steroid abuse.

I agree with your point that a positive test should be the end of the matter - none of this ‘inadvertant use’ nonsense that has been trotted out in the past.

Are Balco, the company supplying the supplements the athletes are taking, not under investigation for bad practice and adding substances to their products that were not listed in the contents?

Perhaps it could in some circumstances be an honest mistake (although still punishable, of course) if it is the company is found to have be negligent in their supplied products? I don’t know, but it’s a possibility.

I think it’s a shame Chambers has been named prior to any investigation into the potential causes. His name is mud already, and no amount of exoneration later will help that, IF it turns out to be others in error. At least the US athletes haven’t had their names blackened prematurely. Guilt should be firmly established first, before naming.

Its a bit tough on the athletes if a company has been adding it to suppliments without showing it on the label (IF that is what happened)

These people have been training all their lives, and if there is no way they could have known then they must have some defence (again if that is what happened)

Anybody who knowingly takes drugs to improve performance should be banned for life. Even taking drug unknowingly should be a ban IF the product taken is labelled as containing the banned substance.