FINA Doping Control Review Board Chairman Dr. Andrew Pipe has reported that there were not any positive doping tests throughout the entire FINA World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai. It seems as though any tests done during the final training session are likely still on their way to Beijing to be tested, but it is unlikely that these will come back positive if they hadn’t through the first 7 days.
Over 300 urine samples and 40 blood tests were administered throughout the event that covers 5 disciplines, which were mostly focused on the top-level athletes, and every single test returned positive. This comes on the back of FINA announcing that it will implement a blood passport program, which means that a certain number of tests will be used to establish a baseline level of certain chemicals in the body, and then future blood tests will be able to better detect abnormal levels based on each individual’s body chemistry. This is viewed by some as a better way to detect certain performance enhancers that are usually undetectable, while others view it as an invasion of privacy. The blood passport program will come under additional scrutiny after Russia’ Anastasia Chaun was forced to withdraw from the World Championships following a blood clot she claims was suffered during the taking of a blood passport sample.
This is a big win for FINA and the event organizers for two separate reasons. While these doping tests (especially the urine tests) are not “catchalls,” that means the use of certain supplements that are easily testable for and have been a more common proglem over the past few years weren’t along for the ride. This means that if there was doping, athletes were being forced into more expensive and complicated methods, and the harder and more expensive doping becomes, the less likely that athletes are going to do it.
With the guise that doping tests cannot (yet) catch everything maybe the more significant meaning of this is less obvious. It means that event organizers successfully controlled the athletes’ food sources to the extent that no athletes food was contaminated with clenbuterol, which was the big concern. Chinese farmers illegally use clenbuterol and other similar supplements to increase meat production in livestock, which can easily make its way into a human’s body through the food supply. The Chinese government instituted a huge crackdown prior to the event and appears to have been able to successfully control what the athletes ate. Hopefully, this leads to a continued effort to control such dangerous farming methods in that country in the future.