Anti-doping taken seriously
The doping controls executed after every race during the World Championship aims to contribute to clean racing and clean athletes.
Story by Mia Becker
– Primarily it´s about protecting all athletes, Linda Helleland says, Minister of Culture in Norway and Vice President of WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency.
She also points out that the cycling sport, which over the years has been associated with doping with athletes and teams accused of cheating, has stepped up to make a real change.
Helleland says the anti-doping efforts made are of huge importance for the sport and that they play a vital role in Bergen. She thinks the athletes themselves are happy about the doping controls because it´s about protecting clean athletes as well. Not only find the cheaters.
– Now when the cycling sport have made great efforts, to prove they want to survive as a great sport, they had to get rid of the accusations of doping from past years. I want to brag about their efforts, says Helleland.
Helleland would also like to see the cycling sport to be in the forefront of anti-doping continuously.
– They really didn´t have any other option a few years back, she points out.
No room for faults
The door leading into the doping control says “no admission” and the subject of the operational part of anti-doping might me something you don´t talk too much about. The corridor is covered with instructions explaining the strict process of testing. Helleland was in a way lucky to be able to perform a doping control with Anti-Doping Norway.
– You could sit here, says Anne Kristine Aas to Helleland.
Aas works for Anti-Doping Norway and got the honour to perform the, fake, doping test on the Ministry of Culture. Explaining each part of the process of the doping control to Helleland and the visiting press. Normally about six tests are done after each race. All medal winners are tested and then several random athletes.
– It is not easy peeing on command, and we have to keep the athletes until they are finished. For some it´s quick, for others it might take two or three hours, Aas says.
The control is very formal and efficient, including gathering information not only about the athlete’s identity but also food intake, supplements and such. However, it still has to be comfortable and safe for the athletes themselves. Something Helleland presses as essential in her work for WADA.
– I press the importance of efficiency but also the rights of each athlete, making sure everything is done right.
Takes little to prove things right
Helleland didn´t have to pee in a small glass, how it is usually done, and the visit was done in a faster pace than normal. It takes 90 millimetres with urine to make the test and with athletes losing a lot of fluids during a race this could prove to be yet another effort. However, Helleland knows the procedures since before, but this was her first actual “test”. Doping controls are usually unknown to most and something experienced only by staff and athletes. Controls are to be performed as soon as possible after the race finishes but press conferences and medal ceremonies are held first. Comcing to the control athletes are thoroughly informed about their rights and the procedure of the test, there should be no room for hesitation. And of course, there is no room to say no.
– The athletes get to choose what test package that should be used, out of three identical options, says Aas. A way to make sure the athletes is kept safe from interference of others.
The test is taken accompanied by an assistant from the anti-doping team. Meaning they will come with the athletes into the bathroom, to make sure the test is not switched or affected in any way. Until the beaker is sealed the assistant will not flinch. The urine is divided between to smaller containers, A and B. Both the athletes and the control supervisor make sure the containers are sealed properly. Until now the control supervisor has not been allowed to interfere in the process, just explaining the procedures.
At the end, a specific form is filled out with in depth information and finally it is signed by the athlete a copy is given to the athlete. However, Helleland did not get to keep her copy. The water used for testing will not likely be tested positive for doping. And hopefully no tests during these championships will.
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