Lovell's Lowdown

Mark Lovell discusses doping.Only a few days into the 2012 Olympics and the first cases of doping have already hit the headlines - a gymnast from Uzbekistan, a sprinter from a Caribbean island and an Albanian weightlifter.

In my opinion, these 'low profile' offences from 'less advanced' athletic powerhouses will pretty much be par for the course. The way I see it only the poorer or more naïve athletes have an increased risk of being exposed.The less-privileged athletes will more than likely be the ones in the dock, those that, for example, do not have access to the very latest masking agents.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is very keen to root out doping at the Games. Testers have allegedly been out in force, conducting random and target testing for months to ensure the London Olympics will not be tarnished by any high profile cases.

The IOC's zero tolerance on drugs is not only aimed at staging a clean Olympics but also at protecting its lucrative brand. It should shield sponsors and broadcasters, who cough up millions for a prized association with the Olympics, from bad publicity. Of course any high profile cases would stain the Olympic image. Doping is bad news and bad for business. The Olympic Spirit would be dragged through the mud and courtrooms.

Over the course of the London Games, the IOC is expected to carry out some 5,000 tests - 3,800 urine and 1,200 blood. There were 20 proven cases of doping at the Beijing Games four years ago, including six horses, down from 26 cases in Athens in 2004.

Yet, these games probably won't be tarnished by any really high profile cases, such as in the Seoul Olympics of 1988 when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was caught in the act after his 100m sprint 'victory'.

The stark reality is that the doping labs and modern medical science are way ahead of any detection techniques. Experts maintain more rigorous post-competition testing and a better understanding of these highly sophisticated masking agents are the only way forward. When the anti-doping agencies and testers start finding the odd athlete from the more advanced medal-winning nations, then I can start firmly believing in the Olympic ideology once more.


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