In WADA research leaked to the New York Times, surveys conducted at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Japan and the 2011 Pan-Arab Games in Doha, Qatar. found that 29% and 45% of athletes respectively admitted anonymously to doping in the previous 12 months.
The findings, which were reviewed by the newspaper, were the result of surveying more than 2,000 track and field athletes in 2011.
By contrast, less than 2% of drug tests examined by anti-doping agency WADA were found positive in 2010.
The questions were answered on tablet computers at the venues. They were first asked to think of a birthday, and then answer one of 2 questions. The first question was whether the birthday fell between January and July. The second question was as follows;
Have you knowingly violated anti-doping regulations by using a prohibited substance or method in the past 12 months?
The study was designed so that only the athlete themselves could know whether the it was the doping question they had answered. Afterwards, the research team used statistical analysis to work out how many athletes had admitted to doping. Their conclusion was that the two figures, of which were both shockingly large, probably underestimated the reality.
The New York Times claim the IAAF have been suppressing the information, and have evidence dating back to the spring of 2012, when the research was ready. After months of consultations with WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the organisation gave the go-ahead for the story to be published. The prominent scientific journal “Science” declined to publish the study in early 2013, stating the “subject matter” did not fit.
However, in March 2013, the agency suddenly withdrew their approval, and asked the researchers to wait for the I.A.A.F. to review the findings, a wait which ended in the researchers being told the study was “not appropriate for publication” at this time.
The study reveals that doping is as commonplace in athletics as it is in cycling, and that a major policy shift is required to curb the spiralling drug usage in the sport.
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