Friday, 3 February 2012

Getting tough on drug cheats

Call for special attention after a rise in failed dope tests

Raihan Yusoff tested positive during the 2011 World Championships.
Raihan Yusoff tested positive during the 2011 World Championships.

A SUDDEN surge in doping cases has  prompted a study into making acquisition, possession and use of banned performance enhancing drugs punishable by law. 

A string of failed dope tests by weightlifters sees the National Sports Council (NSC) and National Sports Institute (NSI) calling for "special attention" on the alarming level of cheating in the sport.

   Should a study on the feasibility of enacting a law that allows prosecution of those dealing in banned substances be pushed forward by the Sports Ministry, culprits could soon face jail terms, although not at the same level as narcotics.

   Currently only athletes who test positive in  tests conducted in sanctioned events and out-of-competition tests are punished through bans imposed by their international federations or the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

   Those dealing in the import and supply of banned substances and performance enhancing drugs usually get away unpunished.

   NSI chief executive officer Datuk Dr Ramlan Abdul Aziz said the matter is being looked into and the Sports Ministry will be advised on the relevant steps to be taken including amendments to the law to allow for prosecution of those caught dealing with performance enhancing drugs.

   "It is time we looked into this more seriously before it gets out of hand. But before we make these proposals to the ministry, there has to be a detailed study conducted to identify and understand what these substances are," said Dr Ramlan.

  Dr Ramlan said laws are already in existence in countries  serious about anti-doping efforts, such as Italy, France, Spain and Canada, and it is time Malaysia took after them to nip the problem in the bud.

NSC director general Datuk Zolkples Embong  said four positive doping tests had surfaced among weightlifters.

   He said 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Raihan Yusoff produced a failed test at the IWF World Championships last November, while two more back-up squad weightlifters had tested positive at the second leg of the National Weightlifting Circuit last July.

   Raihan has already been slapped with a four-year ban and a US$5,000 (RM15,275) fine by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).

   This comes on the back of another weightlifter and a member of the gold medal-winning 4x400m quartet at last year's Sea Games challenging their positive 'A' sample tests and awaiting news of their 'B' samples.

   Zolkples said  the NSC and NSI will be working together with "special attention" given to weightlifting, in which athletes will be closely monitored and have more frequent testing conducted on them.

  Zolkples also voiced  disappointment with  Raihan, who had been under the NSC's care since she began competing in the sport.

   "She contributed a lot to the sport having won a medal at the Commonwealth Games and we had not expected her to fail the test in Paris. According to the letter we received from the IWF she tested positive for a banned stimulant," said Zolkples.

    The Malaysian Weightlifting Federation (MWF) is appealing for Raihan's ban to be reduced from four to two years, as it is her first offence.

Read more: NST 31 January 2012

No comments: