Drug Testing at Rio Olympics 2016Usage of drugs by sports athletes has been a controversial issue for many years. Athletes sometimes use artificial stimulants to achieve a physical and mental advantage over their opponents. The top offending drugs include – Darbepoetin for increased production of red blood cells and improved delivery of oxygen to the muscle tissues, Furosemide which is not a doping substance, but a masking agent to hide other banned substances and Tetrahydrogestrinone a banned steroid that is often undetectable by normal dope tests.

Performance-enhancing drugs including over-the-counter muscle-building supplements, recovery products, and endurance-enhancing blood doping are used orally or via needle injection to increase the human body’s ability to beat competitors. When it comes to the current Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken a more proactive attitude towards the prevention of the use of such illegal drugs than any other organization in the world.

To  deliver  an  effective  anti-doping  program  and to  avoid  unnecessary  duplication  in Doping  Control, the IOC works with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Federations, and other Anti -Doping Organizations to ensure that there is coordination of the Doping Control during the Period of the Olympic Games. With improvement in testing technologies, each year the list of banned athletes continues to grow.

As a result of confirming long-held allegations of widespread doping among Russian athletes, only 278 Russian athletes out of 339 were allowed to compete in Rio. The report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Organization (WADA) provides clear evidence of state-sponsored doping across many sports over four years. Often backlash and paranoia has spilled out into the venues – most pointedly in the pool, where doping allegations have bubbled under the surface for years.

Drug testing involves the analysis of a urine or blood sample. The urine sample is used to detect the use of prohibited substances and methods. The testing period began on July 24, 2016, when the Olympic village opened, and will continue through August 21, 2016, the date of the closing ceremony. It is reported that more than 2,000 drug tests have been conducted for the Rio games and is expected to continue. Samples shall be analyzed to detect prohibited substances and prohibited methods and other substances as may be directed by WADA pursuant to the Monitoring Program. Samples may also be collected and stored for future analysis. More advanced options like drug test cups are now available to test urine on-site. These test cups provide accurate and quick test results in just five minutes.

As per the IOC anti-doping rules, violations include presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample; use or attempted use by an athlete of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method; evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection; and possession of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method.

IOC medical and scientific director, Richard Budgett said that samples collected in Rio will also be tested for gene doping at some point after the games. This gene doping test is to check whether the athletes have received performance-enhancing gene therapy.