Asian Games: Dope tests effective, says OCA

Asian Games: Dope tests effective, says OCA
Singapore's Faris Ramli (right) vies for the ball with Tajikistan's Beknazarov Khurshed (left) during the opening preliminary round match held at the Ansan Wa Stadium.

A Malaysian wushu exponent has allegedly failed a dope test at the Incheon Asian Games, with sources revealing that the athlete has, in accordance with procedures, requested a "B" sample test.

If confirmed, this would be the third anti-doping violation case that has come to light at these Games.

A Tajikistan footballer, Khurshed Beknazarov, tested positive for the banned substance methylhexaneamine after the Central Asian side's 1-0 win over Singapore on Sept 14, and Cambodian soft tennis player, Sophany Yi, was the other, after her urine was sample was found to contain the banned weight loss drug Sibutramine.

Wushu has brought Malaysia one gold medal, through Tai Cheau Xuen in the women's nanquan and nandao all-round event on Sept 20.

While the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has not confirmed the Malaysian case, Dr M Jegathesan, chairman of its medical committee and anti-doping commission believes - that if the Asiad is used as an indicator - anti-doping endeavours have worked well.

"Our efforts have worked, because if you look at the overall picture, you get less positives," he said, adding that most athletes who have been found in violation have done so out of ignorance, rather than with the intention to cheat.

Besides the innocent or ignorant athletes, Jegathesan, an Asian Games gold medallist in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay for Malaysia at the 1966 Bangkok Games, says that there are two other kinds of athletes who fail tests.

There are those who consume an illegal substance because of members of their entourage, and the hardcore cheats who are well versed in evasion techniques.

But there will be no mercy from the OCA for any type of offender.

"Of the two tests that we've declared here so far - both come from substances (the athletes) took, thinking they are supplements or energy drinks. I don't think there was ever intention to use this to cheat," said the 71-year-old.

STRICT

"But our rules are very clear, we are not interested in intention... once the substance is found in your body, you have to pay because it has given you an advantage over other athletes."

But mitigation will come into play when the governing body of the sport involved metes out its ban on the offender in question.

Jegathesan revealed that out of the 9,500 athletes at these Games, some 1,900 athletes have already been tested, both through pre- and post-competition testing.

And he believes that education is the key, especially in reducing the number of athletes who fail tests due to ignorance.

"A lot of athletes simply believe they must take some supplements... and there's nothing like popping a magic pill - that's the culture (now)," he said.

"Perhaps the only way to go about this is to implement a robust education programme."

The OCA will remain vigilant, including leaning on its Test Distribution Plan (TDP) with riskier sports, where athletes are tested more often and more carefully, in a bid to deter and also uncover doping violations.

"We also take into consideration intelligence obtained from our partners," said Jegathesan, who added that the TDP will remain a closely guarded secret because only then will it be effective.

"The TDP is not cast in stone and can change depending on news and intelligence, but this information must remain highly confidential.

"If people can second guess us, it will lose its bite."


This article was first published on September 28, 2014.
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