Winter sports tackle doping issues 

Toronto didn’t win its bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, and Canadian International Olympic Committee executive Dick Pound – some say the IOC’s saviour – didn’t win his bid to become president.

Montreal did, however, win its bid to become the new home of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an IOC/world sports federation body that monitors and tests athletes for performance enhancing substances – a rapidly growing list of over the counter medications, medical procedures, prescription drugs, street drugs, steroids, growth hormones and engineered food additives.

When you consider the number of and public attention given to past Canadian transgressions – such as sprinter Ben Johnson’s steroids, equestrian jumper Eric Lamaze’s cocaine addiction, and Ross Rebagliati’s secondhand smoke – Canada was an obvious choice for the agency.

When the Canadian team heads to Salt Lake City, Utah, in February to compete in the Winter Olympics, coaches want to be extra careful that the athletes aren’t going to test positive – or over the legal limit – for anything.

"Our snowboard athletes are now well aware of what they can and cannot take as medications, supplements, or other banned substances," says Adam Faithfull, the president of the Canadian Snowboard Federation (CSF).

"Athletes are kept up to date by coaches and other staff members of the CSF and are encouraged to check with CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport) about any questionable products. Athletes have been tested by the CCES and WADA at several events this past season, and it is the CCES’ intention to test one hundred per cent of Olympic athletes going to the Olympics before Salt Lake begins."

While Rebagliati’s story continues to attract attention, Faithfull believes the IOC made an error in questioning his gold medal in the first place.

"The reason for the controversy in 1998 was due to the fact that Marijuana was on the FIS banned substance list. Since the Olympics is government by IOC and not the FIS, or any other international federation, Ross’ gold was returned to him. In our eyes, Ross Testing positive for Marijuana should not have even been an issue," says Faithfull.

The Olympics has since expanded its list of prohibited substances to include Cannabinoids, where the test subject exceeds concentrations of THC greater than 15 nanograms per millilitre.

The snowboard athletes have been taking the initiative themselves to make sure they play by the rules – nobody wants to be suspended or cut from the team for a positive test.

According to Faithfull, the athletes have already been tested this year at Olympic training camps, and all tests have come up negative.

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