|Stripped medals by country|
|Country||01 !||02 !||03 !||Total|
|United States (USA)||5||1||2||8|
|North Korea (PRK)||0||1||1||2|
|Great Britain (GBR)||0||0||1||1|
|Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)||0||0||1||1|
|Soviet Union (URS)||0||0||1||1|
|Unified Team (EUN)||0||0||1||1|
According to British journalist Andrew Jennings, a KGB colonel stated that the agency’s officers had posed as anti-doping authorities from the International Olympic Committee to undermine doping tests and that Soviet athletes were “rescued with [these] tremendous efforts”. On the topic of the 1980 Summer Olympics, a 1989 Australian study said “There is hardly a medal winner at the Moscow Games, certainly not a gold medal winner, who is not on one sort of drug or another: usually several kinds. The Moscow Games might as well have been called the Chemists’ Games.”
Documents obtained in 2016 revealed the Soviet Union’s plans for a statewide doping system in track and field in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Dated prior to the country’s decision to boycott the Games, the document detailed the existing steroids operations of the program, along with suggestions for further enhancements. The communication, directed to the Soviet Union’s head of track and field, was prepared by Dr. Sergei Portugalov of the Institute for Physical Culture. Portugalov was also one of the main figures involved in the implementation of the Russian doping program prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Allegations of state-sponsored doping and 2014 ARD documentary
In 2010, an employee at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA, Vitaly Stepanov, began sending information to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) alleging that RUSADA was enabling systemic doping in athletics. He said that he sent 200 emails and 50 letters over three years. In December 2012, Darya Pishchalnikova sent an email to WADA containing details on an alleged state-run doping program in Russia. According to The New York Times, the email reached three top WADA officials but the agency decided not to open an inquiry and instead sent her email to Russian sports officials. On April 2013, having failed a doping test for a second time (after a previous 2-year doping ban in 2008-2010), Pishchalnikova was banned by the Russian Athletics Federation for ten years, and her results from May 2012 were annulled, meaning she was set on track to lose her Olympic medal. Her ban by the Russian Athletics Federation was likely in retaliation. British journalist Nick Harris said that he contacted the International Olympic Committee with allegations about Grigory Rodchenkov‘s laboratory in Moscow in early July 2013.
According to Stepanov, “Even at WADA there were people who didn’t want this story out,” but he said that a person at the organization connected him with the German broadcaster ARD. WADA’s chief investigator Jack Robertson believed that the organization was reluctant to take action and that media attention was necessary, so he obtained David Howman’s permission to contact a journalist. The journalist, Hajo Seppelt, had previously reported on doping in East Germany and other countries. In December 2014, ARD aired Seppelt’s documentary – Geheimsache Doping: Wie Russland seine Sieger macht (The Doping Secret: How Russia Creates its Champions). The documentary alleged Russian state involvement in systematic doping, which it described as “East German-style“. In the documentary, Stepanov and his wife, Yuliya Stepanova (née Rusanova), alleged that Russian athletics officials supplied banned substances in exchange for 5% of an athlete’s earnings and falsified tests together with doping control officers. It included conversations secretly recorded by Stepanova, e.g. Mariya Savinova saying that contacts at a Moscow drug-testing laboratory had covered up her doping. Russian long-distance runner Liliya Shobukhova allegedly paid 450,000 euros to cover up her positive doping result. According to the allegations, Dr. Sergei Portugalov, who is also accused of organising state-sponsored doping going back to the early 1980s in the Soviet Union, was involved in the Russian system.
Restrictions regarding drug use like synthetic hormones by athletes for enhanced performance in competition did not come around until the 20th century. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) established its initial list of prohibited substances in 1967 and introduced the first drug tests at the France and Mexico Olympic games in 1968. Thirty years later, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was founded. WADA was founded at a time when individual governments, sport federations, and the IOC all had differing definitions, policies, and sanctions for doping. WADA bridged these differences by setting unified anti-doping standards and coordinating the efforts of sports organizations and public authorities worldwide.
The United States, a WADA Foundation Board Member, followed suit by establishing the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2000. USADA is recognized by the United States Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American and Paralympic sport in the United States. The agency has adjudication powers and abides by WADA’s World Anti-Doping Code (“Code”), which provides the global framework for anti-doping policies, rules, and regulations. Doping in sports is generally defined as using a prohibited / banned substance; however, WADA expanded the definition to include breaking one or more of eight anti-doping rules within the Code, which range from presence of a prohibited substance in an athlete’s test sample to administering or attempting to administer a prohibited substance or method to an athlete. As of December 19, 2008, the Code banned 192 performance-enhancing drugs, substances, and methods.
Similar to the definitional disputes the international community faced in the 1990s, national professional sports leagues in the U.S. approach anti-doping policy differently and independently of U.S. government regulation, WADA guidelines, and one another. They do not have the same list of banned substances or tests they require players to abide by, may not provide tests or sanctions for use of some prohibited substances, and negotiate their anti-doping policies with their respective players associations through collective bargaining.
In 2005, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took an active interest on anti-drug policies in professional sports by opening an investigation into the matter following heightened media activity on steroid use in Major League Baseball (MLB). The use, possession, distribution, dispensing, or selling of steroids is a punishable federal offense under the Controlled Substances Act which, in addition to steroids, lists other performance-enhancing drugs and substances as Schedule III drugs. A series of hearings were held, most notably with MLB, the National Football League (NFL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Each league’s anti-drug policy was compared to that of the IOC, and each fell short of the IOC requirements. Response to the congressional investigation by sports league representatives resulted largely with push back and a “we can police our own” mentality, but the Committee felt differently and introduced the Clean Sports Act—one of six bills introduced that year in both chambers —addressing the need to adopt uniform national anti-drug policy standards among professional sports leagues that are consistent with, and as stringent as, those enforced by the USADA. While most of the bills were voted out of committee, none were enacted. As of 2013, professional sports leagues continue to negotiate their anti-doping policies privately through collective bargaining.
China (officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC)) conducted a state sanctioned doping programme on athletes in the 1980s and 1990s. The majority of revelations of Chinese doping have focused on swimmers. The doping programme has been explained as a by-product of the “open door” policy which saw the rapid expansion within China of modern cultural and technological exchanges with foreign countries.
Bioethicist Maxwell J. Mehlman in his 2009 book The Price of Perfection, states that “In effect China has replaced East Germany as the target of Western condemnation of state-sponsored doping”. Mehlman quotes an anthropologist as saying that “When China became a ‘world sports power’, American journalists found it all too easy to slip China into the slot of the ‘Big Red Machine’ formally occupied by Eastern bloc teams”.
One early revelation of the issue of doping in China came in the aftermath of the women’s weightlifting competition at the 1997 edition of the country’s National Games. Two Americans, conservative pundit Steve Sailer and sports physiologist Stephen Seiler, noted that “tough drug testing is politically impossible” at the Games, and summarized the events there:
The 1997 Games in Shanghai were such a bacchanal of doping that all 24 women’s weightlifting records were broken, but weightlifting’s governing officials had the guts to refuse to ratify any of these absurd marks.
Chinese swimming performances in the 1990s
In 1992 the number of Chinese swimmers in the top 25 world rankings soared from a plateau of less than 30 to 98, with all but 4 of the 98 swimmers female. Their improvement rate was much better than could have been expected as a result of normal growth and development. China subsequently performed beyond expectations to win 12 gold medals at the 1994 World Aquatics Championships amid widespread suspicions of doping. Chinese swimmers won 12 of 16 gold medals at the 1994 championships and set five world records.
Between 1990 and 1998, 28 Chinese swimmers tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, almost half the world total of drug offenders in sport. Seven swimmers tested positive for steroids at the Asian Games in Hiroshima in late 1994, these positive tests badly affected the squad to the extent that it won only one swimming gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Following the revelations of doping among Chinese swimmers at the Hiroshima games IOC Medical Commission chairman Alexandre de Mérode discounted the possibility of officially sanctioned Chinese doping stating that the results were “accidents that could happen anywhere”. Chinese leaders initially blamed racist sports officials in Japan for manufacturing test results. A report by a joint International Swimming Federation and Olympic Council of Asia delegation to Beijing in 1995 concluded that “there is no evidence that the Chinese are systematically doping athletes”. The revelations led to Australian, American, Canadian and Japanese sports officials voting against Chinese participation at the 1995 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. In 1995 the Chinese People’s Daily newspaper published an anti-doping policy and proclaimed an official prohibition on performance-enhancing substances.
China improved in swimming until 1998 when four more positive tests and the discovery of human growth hormone (HGH) in the swimmer Yuan Yuan‘s luggage at the 1998 World Aquatics Championships in Perth, Australia. In the routine customs check on the swimmer’s bag, enough HGH was discovered to supply the entire women’s swimming team for the duration of the championships. Only Yuan Yuan was sanctioned for the incident, with speculation that this was connected to the nomination of Juan Antonio Samaranch by China for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Tests in Perth found the presence of the banned diuretic masking agent triamterine in the urine of four swimmers, Wang Luna, Yi Zhang, Huijue Cai and Wei Wang. The swimmers were suspended from competition for two years, with three coaches associated with the swimmers, Zhi Cheng, Hiuqin Xu and Zhi Cheng each suspended for three months.
Zhao Jian, the deputy director-general of the China Anti-Doping Agency described the 1998 World Aquatic Championships as a “bad incident”, and said that it had led to China adopting a tougher attitude towards drug testing, with drug testing removed from the main sports administration and placed in a separate agency.
The Hiroshima games also saw a hurdler, a cyclist and two canoeists test positive for the steroid dihydrotestosterone.
Chen Zhangho and Xue Yinxian revelations
In a July 2012 interview published by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, Chen Zhangho, the lead doctor for the Chinese Olympic team at the Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona Olympics told of how he had tested hormones, blood doping and steroids on about fifty elite athletes. Chen also accused the United States, the Soviet Union and France of using performance-enhancing drugs at the same time as China. Chen also blamed foreign experts for “lying” to the Chinese about the effectiveness of doping, saying he and others “blindly believed them like fools”. The Chinese officials eventually concluded that training was the key to performance and that taking drugs did not guarantee this.
Chen said that half of the athletes found doping effective and half did not, adding that he had steered away from growth hormones to steroids because they were cheaper. Chen said he was governed by three principles, that the athlete took the substances voluntarily, that no harm was caused and that they were effective.
Xue Yinxian, former chief doctor for the Chinese gymnastics team, had previously told the newspaper that official use of steroids and growth hormone was “rampant” in the 1980s. Xue claimed that steroids and human growth hormones were officially treated as part of “scientific training”, and athletes often did not know what they were being injected with. Xue did not allege that all Chinese athletes used drugs and has refrained from naming individual athletes.
Athletes seeking to avoid testing positive use various methods. The most common methods include:
- Urine replacement, which involves replacing dirty urine with clean urine from someone who is not taking banned substances. Urine replacement can be done by catheterization or with a prosthetic penis such as The Original Whizzinator.
- Diuretics, used to cleanse the system before having to provide a sample.
- Blood transfusions, which increase the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity, in turn increasing endurance without the presence of drugs that could trigger a positive test result.