GEORGIA COSTI and ERIN SEMMLER
Australia might well be a gold medallist in doping detection, according to figures released by organisers yesterday.
CEO of the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA) David Sharpe advised that three Australian athletes had been caught cheating before the start of the Games, creating places for three clean athletes.
He refused to confirm whether those detected were the powerlifters Sieraya O’Driscoll and Brendan Hunt and sprinter Jessica Peris.
However, the Australian pre-Games detections were out of proportion to their representation, with fewer than 20 athletes in total from the other competing 70 nations or territories being excluded for testing positive.
Mr Sharpe would not state whether this meant Australia had more doping cheats or a superior system of detection.
“You could work the maths any way you wanted to really,” he said.
“Australia does have a very effective system, and so do a lot of countries around the world.
“It’s about making sure there’s deterrence effects.
“I know there were a number of countries that had reported on the establishment of the taskforce. That alone forms a deterrence effect.
“It’s around us having a more specific intelligence targeted program.
“We still have a lot of work to do. We need to make sure our intelligence sources are spot on and that we continue to engage and get greater sources of intelligence.
“Athletes themselves – they know better than anyone who’s performing beyond their capabilities.
“So we need to engage with athletes a lot better through athlete commissions to understand what that is and they don’t want cheats in the game but no-one also wants to dob anyone in.
“So we have to work with the athletes themselves to encourage that sort of reporting.”
Anti-doping processes play an important part in keeping sport fair.
With thousands of athletes from 71 nations and territories around the Commonwealth competing, there are many who are unfamiliar with anti-doping practices and others that have never experienced an anti-doping test.
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is hosting an installation outside the main dining hall to educate athletes.
ASADA education officer Nadine Patmore said the installation is about providing an opportunity for athletes to be aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to clean sport.
“It’s about helping the education process by providing a number of different games and interactive experiences that they can participate in and if they do well we give away merch (merchandise),” Ms Patmore said.
“One of our experiences is a virtual reality experience of the doping control process.
“There’s a few younger athletes and athletes from smaller countries that may not have gone through that process before so we’re having that as a way for them to be prepared for when it actually happens.”
During a visit to the Athletes Village Minister for Sport Senator Bridget McKenzie said the ASADA installation is important for maintaining the integrity of sport.
“It means that athletes from right across the Commonwealth, who might not have a stringent anti-doping regime, can be exposed to anti-doping processes,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The virtual reality anti-doping test is an awesome use of technology to kind of demystify a process that for those who may not be used to it, particularly from a young age, different genders and different cultures, sort of demystifies the process before you have to go through it in reality.”
“I think it’s an important part of making sure the friendly games are also the fair games.”
Chairman of the Commonwealth Games medical commission Dr Mani Jegathesan explained the so-called “intelligent doping system” used for the Games.
“What used to be simply a numbers game is not that anymore, now we try to make every test count and for that we have the principle of intelligent testing based on a number of paradigms,” he said.
“There’s a technical document for sport specific analysis whereby recommendations are made, depending on each risk element of each sport and physiological parameters before determining what substances you look for in different sports”.
No athletes from any country had tested positive during the Games period to date.
English para powerlifter Ali Jawad has built his reputation by speaking out against doping.
“I believe in fair sport, I believe in the right of the athlete and as an athlete I want to compete on a fair playing field,” he said.
Professor of Public Health at Kingston University London, Andrea Petroczi, is conducting detailed research in the Village on athletes’ admissions about drug using.
They have surveyed almost 1400 athletes and will continue with the data collection until the end of the Games.
“We are asking the athletes whether they have been involved in assisted performance enhancement in the past 12 months,” she said.