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So far in 2016, the total number of identified doping sanctions in disability sports totals three. They involve an American table tennis player, an American track and field competitor, and an Indian judoka. This counts publicly available reports found in press releases, media reports, relevant websites and published organisational documents by CASnational anti-doping authorities, national sports organisations, international sports federations and the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS). Table tennis is the only sport in 2016 to have more known sanctions than occurred in the sport in the previous year. The data suggests that 2016 is on track to have similar or higher sanction totals compared to the previous year. Historic data from previous Summer Paralympic Games years suggest a potential spike related to dopers being caught at the Games or in out of competition testing prior to the Games, so 2016 is likely to finish slightly higher.
The total number of identified sanctions worldwide in 2015 were eleven, with Russia having five sanctioned sportspeople, and the United States, Canada, India, Peru, Poland and Spain having one sanctioned athlete each. Powerlifting and athletes were the most sanctioned sport in 2015, with three identified cases each. This was followed by swimming with two, and one each for wheelchair basketball, judo, and goalball.
Historically, the sport with greatest number of doping offenses has been powerlifting, with at least 95 identified cases of doping dating back to 1992. There are 56 incidents of doping dating back to 1986, where it is not possible for ParaSport News to identify which sport the offence occurred in. Doping offenses in powerlifting peaked at 16 in 2004, and then remained consistently between four and 10 cases between 2008 and 2014. Following big anti-doping efforts by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), this number dropped to three in 2015 and remains at zero so far this year.
The controversy in the past year involving Russian track and field competitors has brought renewed attention to the issue of doping in sports. As the Olympics and Paralympics draw closer, there is the question of how much of an issue doping is in sports more broadly and what to do about it. The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Ben Nichols, suggested earlier this month that doping needs to be taken seriously but it should not be made into a criminal offence. At the same time, Nichols acknowledged that countries like Italy, which have criminalised doping, have made it easier to catch support personnel who assist in facilitating athlete doping. WADA does support the criminalising of trafficking and distribution of banned substances. Earlier this month, WADA Director General David Howman called for increased testing in amateur and school team sports, especially as youngsters look to these drugs to break into the elite level.
• The data collected by ParaSport News for this report is available here for the benefit of other journalists and the sports community.
• This article was originally published on Para Sports News on 22 April 2016. You can access the original by clicking here.
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