106 tests in all of 2012

BARCELONA — The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission performed a mere 106 anti-doping tests in all of 2012, according to statistics made public Tuesday by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a wide-ranging report that illuminates both the challenges and progress in the global anti-doping campaign.

Of the 106, 68 were performed out-of-competition; 38 were taken at meets. The 106 tests caught no one cheating.

Compare the Jamaican number — 106 — to the number of tests performed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2012: 4,051. Or the Russian National Anti-Doping Organization: 15,854. The Chinese: 10,066. German: 8,077. Italian: 6,794. British: 5,971. Australian: 5,186. Japanese: 4,956. Indian: 4,051.

Jamaica’s 106 tests were five more than Malta, two more than Slovenia and nine fewer than Iceland. The anti-doping agency in Iran performed 75 more tests than the Jamaicans.

Now ask: who is making a serious effort in trying to catch sports dopers?

The 2012 WADA report for the first time amounts to a one-stop shop. In previous years, there were two separate reports — one for the WADA-accredited labs, another for the various national anti-doping organizations. The report collects the numbers from both sources into one document.

Further, it collects the lab and anti-doping organization data for blood tests, urine tests and the so-called “athlete biological passport” samples.

The report is filled with fascinating, compelling facts and figures.

For instance, the return rate in Olympic sports — as it has been for years — for what is called an “adverse analytical finding,” meaning a positive test, is right around 1 percent.

Considering only the samples that cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union, which goes by the acronym UCI, submitted for its riders last year, blood and urine, in and out of competition — the return rate was, predictably, 1.1 percent, 84 of 5,633 in-competition and 11 of 3,307 out-of-competition, 95 over 8,940 total.

Track and field’s return rate, again considering only those samples submitted by the federation: 0.7 percent.

Aquatic sports: 0.9 percent.

The Olympic federations with serious challenges — far more than cycling and track, which are widely perceived to be plagued by doping issues?

Weightlifting, with a return rate on 1,815 samples of 4.2 percent.

Curling, believe it or not — with four out-of-competition positives out of 96 total samples, again for a return rate of 4.2 percent.

And the Olympic federation facing the most serious challenge? Equestrian. Five in-competition positives from 65 overall samples, for a rate of 7.7 percent.

Overall, there were 20,624 cycling samples analyzed in 2012; 27,836 in track and field; 13,069 in swimming; and, to the surprise of some who might believe cycling is by far the most aggressively policed sport, 28,008 in soccer.

No names or nationalities are attached to the figures.

The obvious question: what are all those tests proving?

The public wants the tests to do what they simply can’t do — show to some level of satisfaction that athletes are clean. But, as the report makes clear, it’s another test produces far more vivid results.

It’s called the carbon-isotope test. With it, the numbers change dramatically.

The IAAF, track and field’s governing body, for instance, authorized 97 such cutting-edge tests last year; 35 were out-of-competition and turned up no positives; 62 were done in-meet, when ordinary tests would likely turn up nothing; nine of the 62 came back positive.

Using the carbon-isotope test raised the return rate in track and field to 5.75 percent overall, 34 of 591 cases, and to 4.97 percent in cycling, 27 of 543.

An even more compelling example of the use of the carbon-isotope test:

The Thai Weightlifting Federation performed an out-of-competition test on 26 weightlifters; 25, or 96.2 percent, came back positive, according to the WADA report.

If carbon-isotope testing produces “better” results, the fact is it’s also expensive.

As the carbon-isotope numbers underscore, it is only the allocation of more money that would provide the level of assurance in a level playing field — particularly in the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong matter — that many assert they want in today’s sports environment.

Where, though, would such funding come from? WADA is funded both from sport, largely meaning the International Olympic Committee, and from governments around the world. In an era of tight budgets, are governments likely — or not — to see funding for doping controls as a pressing priority?

Until then, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

It has for years been common knowledge that the blood-booster erythropoietin, or EPO, would be sought after by cyclists, long-distance runners, cross-country skiers — or, for that matter, any athlete seeking a competitive edge.

So, for instance, the IAAF in 2012 authorized 1,392 EPO tests, in and out of competition. The tests caught no one.

The Russian national doping organization performed 3,063 EPO tests. Positives? None.

The UCI instituted 1,137 tests in competition, catching six, and 3,117 out of competition, catching three. In all, 4,254 tests for a return rate of 0.21 percent.

In the meantime, also sure to add to the debate, as the IOC prepares in the coming weeks to nominate one of three candidates to the WADA presidency — former hurdles great Edwin Moses, IOC vice president Craig Reedie or former IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch — there’s this:

Worldwide, labs analyzed roughly 185,000 samples from athletes across all the Olympic sports in 2012. There turned up a total of 4,500 “adverse analytical findings” as well as “atypical findings,” meaning a case that requires further investigation, for a combined rate of 2.4 percent.

Of those 4,500, 2,279, or 50.6 percent, were for anabolic steroids, topping the list.

Next: stimulants, 697, 15.5 percent.

Next, and this is why there is such discussion about whether it ought to be on the list in the first instance as a performance-enhancer, cannabinoids, meaning marijuana, 406, 9 percent.

At a meeting May 11, WADA’s executive committee announced that effective immediately it was significantly raising the threshold required for an athlete to test positive.


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19 thoughts on “106 tests in all of 2012

  1. Jamaica has 3 million or less, USA +300million and Russia near 145 million.
    106 test in proportion to USA are 10600, a lot of more that 10600 hehehe

    When we compare, we should to talk about total people¡¡¡¡¡¡¡

    • We can’t just compare population sizes. We need to compare number of athletes. The percentage of the overall population who are athletes in a developed country such as the USA or Australia, will be very much higher than that of India or China.

      • USA has a lot of more athletes that Jamaica, it is sure.
        And yes they should talk about total athletes in each country, no total tests.
        Jamaica is very very small for to compare with countries like USA or Russia

    • Completely agree. Your comparisons without controlling for federation size, budget, GDP per capita, and population stradles the boarder of complete neglegence and incompetent analysis. Your point may still be valid after controling for “size” but you left that out and it leaves the critical reader wondering why.

  2. I’m not really sure if the amount of people in the country makes a difference in this instance. I believe you would compare the amount of athletes competing from the country and not he population. So what’s the ratio of athletes to test per country?

  3. The question isn’t Jamaica’s size compared to the USA or Russia but rather the number of athletes and local events – assuming JADC performs testing only in Jamaica and/or at Jamaican sporting events (I don’t know how it works with the different testing bodies) – compared to the USA and Russia. I would guess that proportionally Jamaica tested as much as the other countries mentioned. Also – is there any neutral observer of these tests? Many countries have long been suspected of state-encouraged cheating – whose to say that the Russian tests (for example) were authentic?

  4. The data presented are terribly misleading, as it doesn’t show the ratio of tests to athletes, or tests to national population. Jamaica certainly has many fewer top level athletes and should in fact conduct fewer tests. Showing this number proportionally would provide much greater context.

  5. Jamaica is tiny, and relatively poor. But, that being the case, they need to look at ways at increasing that testing. It’s nowhere near enough to engender confidence.

    Russia is in a bind. Clearly, somebody at RUSADA cares; they are certainly doing a serious number of tests. On the other hand, the ‘Moscow’ lab is a by-word for corruption – it’s no surprise there has been a huge uptick in Russia positives since the involvement of ‘Koln’ lab, the same lab that caught Alberto Contador – ‘Koln’ lab has an excellent reputation.

    It’s interesting that GB, Russia, Italy and even China perform large numbers of tests – while the USA, THE sports superstar, with probably more pro and olympic sportespeople per head than any other developed country performs fewer than GB. not fewer per head. Fewer full stop. On the other hand, USADA have a good reputation in terms of seriosuness, as shown by both the baseball and Armstrong sagas.

    If we have a test that is better – the carbon-isotope, then a way must be found to do it.

    And maybe i’m niave, but the idea that upwards of 90% of sportspeople in most sports in most countries are probably clean, is actually rather encouraging.

  6. As others have pointed out, these numbers mean absolutely nothing without information regarding Jamaica’s population, GDP, pressing national issues, etc. To suggest that a small nation should be spending a significant amount of money testing a very small number of elite athletes is ludicrous. “Expert[s] on the Olympic Movement” would know as much.

    • 107 tests across ALL sports? Simply not enough. That’s barely enough to cover their medalists alone, never mind all sportspeople on the island.

      If Jamaican can’t do it alone – federate their Anti-Drugs body with other similar caribbean nations. Pool resources, but change has to happen.

  7. Read the entire story, people (especially those with their head in the sand of some Caribbean beach).
    Population of Malta – 415,654 — # of tests 101
    Population of Iceland – 319,014 — # of tests 115
    Population of Jamaica – 2.7 million — # of tests 106

    Something is rotten in the State of, er, Jamaica…

    • Population of Slovenia – 2,055,496 — # of tests 104.
      Population of the Ukraine – 44,854,065 — # of tests 10
      Population of Brazil – 193,946,886 — # of tests 128
      Population of Nigeria – 170,123,740 — # of tests 35
      Population of Israel – 8,002,300 — # of tests 86
      Population of Armenia – 3,262,200 — # of tests 65
      and the list goes on and on……….

      You might want to read the whole WADA report and not just this article. There are a lot more countries outside of Jamaica with more pressing population to test number issues.

  8. Slovenia, Ukraine, Brazil, Nigeria, Israel, Armenia… Wonderful countries, all. But the last time I checked they weren’t dominating sprint distances year in and year out at the Olympics and World Championships. Do Slovenia, Nigeria and Armenia even field track and field teams? Nice try, Really. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Jamaica needs more testing because their success has warranted it. Besides, what are you so afraid of — that your star sprinter will turn out to be as big a fraud as Lance Armstrong? You should be welcoming the opportunity to prove that your athletes are clean.

    • First, I don’t have a star sprinter, I am a fan of speed period. Second, I actually believe most of the top sprinters are doping INCLUDING Bolt. Sorry to burst your bubble. Third, I didn’t say Jamaica didn’t need more testing but in your attempt to draw your own comparison you conveniently left off Slovenia. Malta and Iceland….. Wonderful countries, all. But the last time I checked they weren’t dominating sprint distances year in and year out at the Olympics and World Championships. Do Malta and Iceland even field track and field teams? My point was that MANY other countries need more testing and some of the dominate in other events. Jamaica is not the only one with the problem so to be up in arms about them and to say its because they’re “dominating” is silly. And if you don’t know that Nigeria and Slovenia field track teams you probably don’t really pay attention to the sport. Or maybe your star sprinters are American so you’ve been getting your feelings hurt a lot lately.

  9. It’s obviously that Jamaica is a smaller country than USA and I think americans shouldn’t blame anyone else about doping because they’re really the bad guys in the doping game. They just try to black list other countrys like Jamaica because they don’t succeed better than them i 100m sprint for example. So much pride in USA, but lot of cheating too.

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