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2008年12月31日 (水)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 30(IHT/Asahi: December 31,2008)

EDITORIAL: Steroids in sports


How should the sports world deal with the problem of doping, a problem that continued to mar events during 2008?


In January, Marion Jones, the U.S. track and field star who won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was sentenced to six months in prison for committing perjury during an investigation into alleged steroid use. And Major League Baseball is still reeling from a series of steroids scandals that have implicated home run king Barry Bonds and others.


Earlier this month, the silver and bronze medalists of the men's hammer throw at the Beijing Olympics were officially disqualified. Japan's Koji Murofushi, who finished fifth, was belatedly awarded the bronze by default.


Murofushi's second straight Olympic medal is an impressive achievement. But the gold medal he gained in Athens four years ago was also won by default due to the disqualification of the original winner for doping.


Unpleasant as it must be for Murofushi, his situation underscores how deeply doping has taken root in the sporting world.


For the first time in six years, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has substantially revised its rules and regulations, which will take effect in January. With the exception of drug tests during competitions in which athletes are forewarned, the revised World Anti-Doping Code allows sports organizations to conduct surprise tests at any time.


Under the current code, top-level athletes are already required to report on their daily whereabouts up to three months in advance. But the requirements will become more stringent from January.


For instance, athletes will be required to provide a specific place where they can meet with anti-doping officials for 60 minutes at an arranged time per day.


If they miss three drug tests over an 18-month period even because of illness or other emergencies, they will be suspended from competition or face other punishment.


Because athletes' performances and medal counts are directly linked to their income levels nowadays, world records and other spectacular feats are automatically scrutinized with some suspicion. This is unfortunate, but it is a fact that athletes today have no choice but to prove they are clean.


However, some Japanese don't seem to really know why these changes are needed.


Anti-doping regulations in Japan are administered by the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA), and almost all athletic organizations for Olympic events are JADA members. However, Japan's professional soccer and baseball leagues still act independently of JADA.



In soccer, a former Japanese national team player appealed his doping suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sport about a year ago.


And in Japanese baseball, some drug violations by foreign players have come to light.


Professional sports have a considerable influence on society. Their governing bodies must collaborate with JADA and take active steps to prevent doping violations.


We would like to see awareness-raising campaigns spread at the grass-roots level to make people, especially younger ones, understand why doping is wrong, what it does to the body, and how it can be stopped.


A few years ago, doping tests became mandatory for participants in Kokutai national sports festival events. Some athletes have been disqualified for "inadvertent doping"--taking common over-the-counter medicine without realizing they contained banned substances.


JADA will tie up with the Japan Pharmaceutical Association to introduce a "sports pharmacist system" next fiscal year. The purpose is to use the knowledge of pharmacists to prevent athletes from taking performance-enhancing drugs. We hope this system will prove effective.



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