Doping at the Olympic Games
By Joshlin Sheridan, Marketing —
On the Short-Track to Getting Caught
On February 13, the Japanese short-track speed skater, Kei Saito, was suspended from the 2018 Winter Games due to allegations of doping. Kei is said to have taken acetazolamide, intended to hide the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. He is the first suspension so far in the 2018 Olympic Games. Viewers of this Olympic season likely have doping in the forefront of their minds considering the bans placed on the 47 Russian athletes and coaches from the 2014 Winter Olympics. Just how prevalent is it for athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs?
What the Studies Show
The actual results may surprise you. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, about 1-2 percent of the several hundred thousand Olympic athletes sampled annually test positive for prohibited substances. However, a different anonymous Sports Medicine survey reported that around 57 percent of world-class amateur athletes admit to using such substances. How is such a gap possible?
There are several plausible explanations. One is that drug tests constantly have to be reformed to catch up with the new performance-enhancing drugs being created. As the drugs evolve, scientists must struggle to create tests that target over 500 known chemicals that are used in drugs such as steroids. Another reason that it is rare for athletes to be caught using drugs is because of the timing of the drug tests. Such tests are expensive to administer and are therefore usually given close to the time of a competition, such as the Olympics. However, if athletes use these drugs to build muscle during the off-season and then stop with enough time before their competitions start, the tests might not be able to detect these drugs in their bloodstream.
An Alternative Solution
Drug tests are expensive to administer; however, world-class athletes should not get away with taking drugs during the off-season. In order to maintain the integrity of sports competitions, athletes could be frequently given a lie detection test called EyeDetect®. EyeDetect tracks eye movements and pupil dilation to detect deception. This is because lying takes a greater cognitive load, which manifests itself in the eyes.
If athletes frequently took such a test, this would ensure the integrity of the games and put red flags on those who are likely using illegal drugs. This solution is accurate, non-invasive, and cost-effective.
Photo by / Marc Ruaix