Troubling Science is our new project that is looking into the questionable scientific evidence that was used to convict several elite athletes of doping.
In essence, this project documents the scientific research of a group of Norwegian scientists who have taken it upon themselves to battle some of the bad science that has taken place in WADA-accredited laboratories involving the use of EPO, a blood booster that improves athletic performance. For their labour, they have received no payment and have been largely ignored by the doping community. We hope that this project will give them exposure and force a debate about these cases that have been swept under the rug, and ruined several promising athletic careers in the process.
Imagine that you are an elite athlete who has spent every day training for only the chance at glory. Not only have you never doped, but you hate what it has done to the sport you love. One day you receive notice that you have tested positive for a banned substance. In that moment, your life’s work, your team, your coach, your club are all gone and you are left alone to try to convince a dope-sick world that you are not one of them.
We don’t know if Steven Colvert doped. The science is debated and the samples have been destroyed. The public has no reason anymore to believe anything. But even if he did dope, the process by which he was convicted raises so many issues in due process that one must worry for any potentially innocent athletes out there. If you’re not rich and famous, you have almost no chance of proving your innocence.
We hope this film shows that the other side of our rabid need for justice in these doping scandals are the clean athletes who have rights worthy of our consideration. Surely the only thing worse than a doped athlete getting to win, is a clean athlete taken from his prime.
Documents relating to Colvert Video:
- Document D: Colvert A/B Samples:
- Document E: Borderline Analysis (Norwegian’s Article questioning findings)
- Document F: Response to article by top WADA expert
- Document G: Response to above article by original authors
- Pielke Jr. Newsweek
- Recent RTE Article
- Two articles by Cathal Dennehy
- The science behind the Colvert case is best summarised here by Dr. Ross Tucker.
- More information at www.StevenColvert.ie
The work of the Norwegians dates back to the 2010 case of Erik Tysse, but first we will look at the most recent case of Vojtěch Sommer, as he has an upcoming hearing with the Czech Olympic Arbitration Committee to determine his future. [Update: the case against Sommer was dropped by the Olympic Committee and he is now free to compete. Congrats Vojtěch!] Vojtěch has protested his innocence from the beginning, and has been very open about the process making all documents available at his website. (it’s in Czech, but google translate does adequately).
This video is superficial, but serves as a good introduction:
The relevant documentation can be found below, most important is the analysis done by the Norwegians (Document C). We encourage our viewers to offer outside opinions and information, as good science is built upon peer review. Unfortunately, multiple opinions are rarely allowed in the case of doping convictions.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) admits to catching only a very small percentage of known dopers, so it is easy to assume that the ones who are caught are guilty. However, this decision ultimately relies on laboratories and procedures which are prone to mistakes, mistakes which can unjustly ruin athletes’ careers. Furthermore, these cases often involve non-famous athletes in unglamorous sports that garner little public attention. It should be noted that in the case of Sommer WADA has not and likely will not be involved, as he is an amateur, and this has all happened at the Czech level. However the labs who accused him are WADA accredited.
This video will be one in a series that takes a closer look at under-the-radar cases of convicted dopers built upon questionable science. Our goal is to engage with WADA scientists in the pursuit of ensuring that only the best science is used in the never-ending desire for fairness in sport. Doping controls were first introduced as protections for clean athletes, which should logically include clean, falsely-accused athletes as well.
It is impossible to know whether these athletes doped. All we know is that the science involved in their tests raises questions about the validity of their convictions. In most legal systems, a person is innocent until proven guilty. Should this courtesy be extended to athletes? The answer is complex and involves many parties. We hope this project will shed some light on the process.
Our next video will look at the case of Irish sprinter Steven Colvert, who has also been very open about his case . Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. (who we have interviewed) wrote this piece for Newsweek about him: