Technology advancements in the field of anti-doping testing may lead to falsely accusing athletes of taking illegal performance-enhancing substances, The Conversation reports.
Doping control inspectors had a tough year trying to reach the athletes before the Tokyo Olympics, which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the strict measures and limitations, the testing organizations claim they’re back to operating at normal levels.
However, that wasn’t the end of the problems for athletes and these institutions. The cutting-edge laboratory analysis procedures started identifying lower and lower quantities of banned drugs, leading to an increased number of detected doping instances among athletes during the Olympics 2020.
However, recent findings indicate that these test results could be the consequence of the athletes’ accidental intake of contaminated meals, supplements, or medicines instead of deliberate doping.
For example, Shelby Houlihan, the American runner and record holder in 1,500 and 5,000 m track events, was recently accused of using illegal substances.
She claimed that the detected anabolic steroid nandrolone could result from her eating a pork burrito hours before the urine sampling. However, the Court of Arbitration had upheld a four-year ban for the athlete, disqualifying her from the Tokyo Games.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated case. Many other athletes that tested positive for anabolic steroids such as nandrolone and trenbolone argue that the test results were affected by food, supplements, or medications.
A Kenyan long-distance runner claims that the presence of nandrolone in his system resulted from ingesting pork fat from a pig fed with supplements potentially containing the problematic substance.
Another athlete, an American long jumper, got a four-year ban for the alleged use of trenbolone originating from consuming tainted beef at a restaurant. Luckily, the ban was recently abolished.
However, the damage to these athletes’ careers was inevitable as the suspension of up to four years could have significantly hampered their professional lives.
For this reason, many specialists rose against the starting position of guilt when it comes to the testing results, especially when it comes to extraordinarily low levels of banned substances. Instead, they propose adopting the “ethics of care” approach that supports “clean” athletes.