The Summer Olympic Games are set to start in a few short weeks, and already their stance on anti-doping is being made very clear. With one athlete banned from the Games just before he was set to compete, and the state-of-the-art anti-doping laboratory already working to ensure that the health of the athletes and the integrity of the Olympics come first and foremost, it is apparent that this Olympic Games will be taking any use of performance-enhancing substances very seriously.
The London 2012 World Anti-Doping Agency is an integral part of this Summer Olympic Games. The facility will be used specifically to collect and analyze samples from up to 1 in 2 competing athletes, and all medalists. Located in Harlow, Essex, the laboratory is impressive both in size and scope. The facility is the size of seven tennis courts, according to the London 2012 website, and will be in operation 24/7 for the duration of the Games. One thousand staff members, including 150 scientists, will be tasked with processing over 5,000 athlete blood and urine samples, a 10% increase in the number collected during the Beijing 2008 Games. That is a potential of 400 samples per day! The lab services are provided by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and operated by King’s College London, so it is clear that some of the best scientific minds around will devote their talents to these Summer Olympic Games.
All Olympic athletes could be tested anytime, from the opening of the village to the Closing Ceremony, without notice. As of July 4, 2012, one athlete, Alex Rasmussen, a Beijing silver medalist in cycling, was banned from the London Olympics on allegations that he missed two drug tests and failed to file his availability for testing. According to the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Rasmussen will be suspended for 18 months, meaning he cannot compete again until March of 2013. This blow, coming so soon before the start of the Games, must be disappointing, but also speaks to the Olympics’ commitment to upholding their anti-doping policy.
The Olympic Games are a celebration of the talents and training of the world’s greatest athletes. In the London 2012 Games, cheating is clearly not tolerated and any athlete who tries to use one of the 240 prohibited substances, including growth hormones, anabolic steroids, and diuretics, will most likely find that their dreams of Olympic glory will come to a quick and crushing end.