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Too many banned substances?

From stimulants to steroids, growth hormones and even gene therapy, high-performance athletes routinely risk everything in their quest for gold. Canada has had its share of drug headlines, from disgraced Pan Am weightlifters to the Ben Johnson scandal and the Dubin Inquiry. In recent years, Canadian scientists, athletes and officials have been first out of the blocks in the race to keep sports safe and fair.

Every year drug labs around the world test tens of thousands of urine and blood samples. They seek out a few parts per billion of more than 700 banned substances. Athletes live in constant fear of ingesting something by accident. As we see in this clip, in growing numbers athletes and officials are asking if the expensive system is misguided and unworkable, at risk of collapsing under its own weight. 
• In his final years as president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch argued for shortening the list of banned substances in sport, arguing that the list was not realistic. He went so far as to say he was worried only about substances that harmed the athlete's health, not those that improved performance. He was later forced to retract the statement.


• In 2001, Samaranch's successor, Belgian doctor Jacques Rogge, ruled out a reduction of the list. "With all due respect to Juan Antonio Samaranch, he is not aware of the reality in sports medicine and doping," Rogge said in an interview. "I know it because of my profession. It's not possible to reduce the list and we're not going to reduce the list, that's very clear."

• Canadian equestrian Eric Lamaze was kept out of two straight Olympic games for drug use. Lamaze was excluded from the Atlanta Games after he tested positive for cocaine prior to the 1996 Olympics. The 1999 national champion eventually received a seven-month suspension, successfully appealing an initial four-year ban, by arguing that he took cocaine for personal reasons not performance-enhancing reasons.

• Before the 2000 Olympic games, Lamaze was banned for life after testing positive for the banned substance ephedrine. Lamaze again successfully appealed, arguing that he unknowingly took it because it wasn't listed on the label. His ban was reduced to a warning, but a second, follow-up test revealed cocaine use. A second lifetime ban was also overturned when Lamaze successfully argued that his cocaine lapse was the result of depression brought on by the erroneous ephedrine judgment. He continues to compete.
Medium: Television
Program: Sports Journal
Broadcast Date: Dec. 17, 2000
Guest(s): Alexandre de Merode, Victor Lachance, Eric Lamaze, Andrew Pipe, Dick Pound, Jaques Rogge, Angela Schneider
Host: Tom Harrington
Reporter: Brenda Irving
Duration: 8:35

Last updated: February 15, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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