«Transcript of the Safeguarding the Integrity of Sport Forum May 2015 A production of Play by the Rules In cooperation with © Play by the Rules 2015 ...»
So, I’m going to now talk—I’m going to give you three statements, and I’d like your opinions, because I’m pretty sure you’ll know the answers, in terms of some of this stuff, and have your own thoughts, which can later inform other aspects of my presentation.
But I’ll throw a statement out there, a true-or-false statement, “Doping is a practice confined to elite-level sports only.” Who disagrees with that? Over on my right, in the green shirt, what’s your name? Simon? Good name. Why do you disagree with that statement?
Respondent: I’ve seen it.
Simon: Witnessed and seen it?
Respondent: I’ve played sport for 40 years, and I’ve seen it.
Simon: Haven’t done it, I hope? No? Good. So, sport is a human endeavour. Doping isn’t an issue confined to elite-level sport. Perhaps, 20 years ago, that statement may have largely been still accurate. Nowadays, for a number of reasons, which I’ll highlight in some of the drivers that I’ll talk about—it’s not confined to elite-level sport. It’s well and truly breached that quarantine. It is affecting sub-elite sports, and it even goes down as far as communitylevel sport.
All right, “Doping requires sophisticated support to undertake.” Who would disagree with that statement? Yes, on the back in the middle? Yes?
Respondent: Depending on your definition of doping, whatever you could find at the local pharmacy would be doping, so that’s an important discussion.
Play by the Rules Simon: No, it certainly doesn’t require Lance Armstrong-style dedicated professional specialist medical support to dope. As you said, it might be as simple as just going to your local pharmacy and getting a substance that is technically banned by WADA. So, you certainly don’t need long supply chains or specific medical advice to dope.
And last of all, “There’s no compelling reason to dope at the sub-elite level.” Who would disagree with that? Man in the leather jacket on my right?
Respondent: I think the pressure placed on junior athletes by their parents would create a reason for them and their coaches to go into doping or to use it, if they can.
Simon: Yes, so there’s pressure, and that’s one of them. And I’ll touch on a study a bit later, in one of the slides, around elite-level juniors, in particular, and doping issues. But yes, I disagree with that statement, as well. I’ll go through, at the back end of this presentation, a number of reasons why people have doped at the sub-elite level, and just help you understand some of the reasons people would articulate why they have doped in the past.
Sport is a human endeavour, so we all make mistakes. So, now, look at me. I decided to get married and have three children. So, no one’s immune to making mistakes. It’s not confined to elite-level sport. These are issues that are relevant to yourselves and your sports that you are administering.
How do I know this sort of stuff? Tip-offs. I manage the tip-off line for ASADA, so most of our tip-offs come in via our web form on our website. Occasionally, we get calls, as well, or emails. So, most of the tip-offs I receive don’t concern elite athletes. They concern sub-elite or community-level sports participants. So, we can well and truly see from that—I just did an analysis on those sort of trends over time. Probably 20 years ago, it wouldn’t have been the case. Nowadays, most of my tip-offs relate to people that you may be accountable for dealing with on a daily basis.
ASADA investigations—when we send our investigators out to talk to someone who’s been detected doping, they’ll tell us about more people at the sub-elite level who’ve doped, introduced them to doping, or are facilitating their doping, or that they’re supplying and trafficking doping substances to.
Law enforcement supplies us with intelligence. We have a good information-sharing relationship. Increasingly, they are producing intelligence around these issues, because it’s something that’s increasingly on their agenda, as well. For example, steroids in Queensland is now a Schedule 1 drug, so equivalent with heroin or something like that. It’s becoming identified as a serious community health issue, not just a doping issue, so there’s more law enforcement attention on the issue, as well.
Testing—when we test at the sub-elite level, we get positive presence for banned substances at the sub-elite level. Research—there was a research report released by a couple of universities from Australia last year, and it concerned the elite-level junior 18 Keeping sport safe, fair and inclusive athletes. So, they surveyed 900 elite juniors. Within their results, they found that 4% of those 900 admitted to using performance-enhancing substances that were banned for performance-enhancing purposes. So, these aren’t supplements or anything like that. These were people making admissions to using performance-enhancing substances that were banned, purely to get a performance effect. So, I asked myself, “If 4% of elite juniors are doing it, what’s it like for more adult populations who have greater means, greater ability to facilitate such things, if 4% of elite juniors are up to that sort of stuff?” And last of all, when I talk to my international counterparts, particularly the UK, U.S., Canada, and New Zealand, their experience replicates our own, that it’s not an issue confined to elite-level sports. They have the same issues at their sub-elite and community sports levels.
And we’re each wrestling with what to do about these problems, given that it’s no longer confined to the elite-level models that we’re all set up for.
So, some of the drivers that are making, I guess, these changes a reality and bringing to bear some of these trends that I’ll talk about and picture on the slide show—these are situational drivers, and these relate back to some of the things Paul was talking about. These are locallevel influences on athletes and people participating in sport. These are your local-level role models, your near role models, your local sports administrators, coaches, captains of teams, peers—what their mindsets are, what their ethical mindsets are, such as Paul was talking about, the subcultures—those sort of situational-level influences—they’re the things I think you can have a really good effect and impact upon, depending on your policies, etc., and the sort of cultures you’re looking to create.
The big changes we’re seeing, in terms of doping, tend to be driven by the environmental drivers. And these are the big-daddy changes that you and I can’t influence. A lot of these are global changes that are creating trends in doping. And I’ll talk about four in a bit more detail. The first I’ll talk about is technological change. In the last 20 years, what would you say has been the biggest technological driver, perhaps, of doping?
Respondent: Access to information on the Internet.
Simon: Exactly, the Internet—a relatively new phenomenon, probably since the mid-90s.
As it’s gained a lot of traction and use, it’s enabled the sharing of information, however— across the globe, across all sorts of markets and between people in a way as never before.
So, whereas before, 20 years ago, to dope effectively and have some sort of doping regime that wasn’t going to kill you, you might have to know someone else that was doping to get that inside knowledge, now that knowledge is on the public Internet. If you go a bodybuilding forum, you will see people openly talking about what substances to take, how to stack it, how to test your body’s threshold to work at what your body can take and then back off a little bit, in great detail. So, if you want to know how to dope, that information is readily available. 20 years ago, it wouldn’t have been as easy to come across that sort of information. You probably would have had to know someone doing it and get that expertise firsthand. Now, you just have to log on to the Internet. And that comes, also, down to—question?
Play by the Rules Respondent: It might make it easier for athletes of any level to access information, but it might be easier for people like yourself, as well, because you have access to the same information.
Simon: if you decide you want to go and procure these sort of things, you can get access to the market internationally and use web-based functions to actually pay for this stuff. 20 years ago, if I wanted to send money overseas, I’d have to go to the bank and get some sort of international transfer. It was clunky. It was cumbersome and easily tracked. Nowadays, if you have a PayPal account, you can do it all on your smartphone. You can buy it, pay for it, get it shipped to you, on your phone. So, that’s a big driver of some of the changes. The accessibility of these substances is higher than it used to be.
Another change is globalization, and it ties hand-in-hand with some of the technological drivers. The world’s a smaller place than it was 20 years ago. Borders are less meaningful than they used to be. We have trade agreements. It’s easy to travel. It’s cheap to travel. Not every jurisdiction shares the same laws that we do, with regards to some of these banned substances. You might go to Thailand, and what you can get over the counter in Thailand at a pharmacy there will be a lot easier to get your hands on than substances here that might be well-restricted, and you might only get if you have a prescription for them.
And there is some evidence that people will go overseas to have little doping holidays, train hard, get the substances they need, because you can just go to a pharmacy and acquire it with no questions asked, get the training effect you’re looking for, and then come back home.
The third trend I’ll talk about is image. Now, we’re a more image-conscious society than perhaps we were in the past. You look at the amount of gyms that proliferate, the amount of supplement stores. Anecdotally, I know, when I came through the police college in 2001, four o’clock on a Friday afternoon, most of the recruits would have been in the inhouse bar. Now, when I worked in the college again as a trainer for three years recently, Friday afternoon at four o’clock, maybe half of the recruits would be in the bar. The other half would be working out in the gym and being diligent about, I guess, getting bigger or working aerobically. So, that’s a trend and a change that I saw in only 10 to 15 years taking place, which I guess points to wider societal changes. So, with those image-conscious changes, some of the substances that you use to enhance your images are also banned substances that enhance performance on the sports fields.
And the last one I’ll talk about, in terms of environmental drivers, is the medicalisation of society. We dope to live nowadays. If you think about all the sorts of things that we naturally are more inclined to take than we used to, just to put up with ailments that, in the past, we may have just lived with or not done too much about—Viagra—we take aspirin to thin our blood—Ritalin for other disorders with children—antidepressants—we take a lot of substances just to go about our normal lives. OK, so with that change in philosophy, sometimes it’s taking us closer to that decision point, for some people, whether they dope 20 Keeping sport safe, fair and inclusive or not, because the whole philosophy of taking substances, perhaps, is different to what it was 20 years ago. So, perhaps that decision to dope or not has become a bit more of a gray area for some people—not everyone.
IIn terms of some of the trends that those drivers are causing, if you look at this chart, that’s the customs seizures of performance- or image-enhancing drugs at the border. So, these are things like parcel post seizures, things coming in through the mail, that they may detect substances in those that aren’t permissible to import. They’ll open them up and seize those items. So, these are just the detections. You can see, between 2003 and 2013, in that 10year period, PED seizures at the borders went up 600%. So, we can see that, with that trend, a lot of those seizures might be related to image-enhancement reasons. They might be occupationally related. It might be security industry people, OMCGs, etc., importing drugs because, occupationally, it might be better for you as a doorman to have size, etc. But part of that 6,000, I know for a fact, will be people involved in sports, looking to import steroids or other image- and performance-enhancing drugs for an athletic benefit.
And that’s just the detections. Hand-in-hand with that, once it’s in the border, and people have imported it successfully, we know that jurisdictionally, arrests in that same 10-year period for things like steroids have gone up 500%. So, these substances are more prevalent throughout society, more accessible, because of those reasons we spoke of. And hand-inhand with that, more sports people will be using these things. And most participants in sport aren’t elite sports. It’s at the sub-elite and community levels.
So, why dope? This comes back to one of those original three questions I asked. Ambition— I’ll tell you a little anecdote. We had a rugby league player, sub-elite level rugby league player. He was tested and tested positive for an old-school steroid. We sent the investigators out, and we asked him, “OK, you’ve been caught doping. There’s no question about that.
Why did you take that substance?” His explanation as to why he decided to dope and go down that path was because he wanted to make that next level, and he had the ambition to get the next level. And part of his rationalization was that, in trying to get to that next level, he could get rid of the two part-time jobs that were taking up 50 hours of his week, because Play by the Rules once he got a contract at the next level, he would have enough financial stability to ditch his part-time jobs. He’d have the club’s support behind him. And then, he wouldn’t need to dope at that point. So, his ambition led him to doping, and his rationalization was that he wouldn’t do it forever. Once he had that contract, and he had the full support of the club and the game behind him, he could focus more on his training and focus more on getting his head above all the other people that he was competing with to get that contract.