Kristjan Port: Are we interested in finding next doping cases?
Sports biologist and board member of the Estonian Anti-Doping Agency (EADA) Kristjan Port has said in light of Mati Alaver's doping case that while the past can not be changed, in future it must be possible for parents to have the courage to bring their children to play sports.
"Sports is a field of activity, where maximum effort is expected. If we do not create a safe background culturally, then the athlete and coach will look for solutions not from intellectual scientific aspiration, but instead from laboratories and pharmacies - serious interventions in metabolism," Port said on ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday.
Former ski star, two-time olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Andrus Veerpalu was also involved in the doping ring.
Port noted: "We all have an uncomfortable feeling when we are let down. We feel like we have not won medals but instead have lost them. Even if there is no proof about these medals, there is an accompanying uncomfortable feeling.
"We can not change history, but we can mould the future. For that, we must develop an understanding, at least in our own sports organization and cultural space, where we do not look at the last ten years. We can see how bad they let the situation get," he said.
The sports biologist added: "We do not interpret exceptions for ourselves and blame others. We should be strictest toward ourselves, only then can we guarantee that parents dare to bring their children to training sessions and that there are no coaches putting lives in danger."
He said cases like Alaver's should be investigated in detail in the future. "If as a random sample we stick our head in the environment of top-level sports and Alaver's case comes out, then we can assume there are others. Now we face the question of being ready to manage the next ones and if we are interested in uncovering them."
The goal is to develop a cultural space where cheating is of no use
The anti-doping expert said: "An athlete does not want to be a normal person, he would be average in that case. He wants to differ from the norm as much as possible and when you do not use medicines for their intended purposes and in their intended regime, there is a risk. We can find these substances here.
"For example, growth hormones are well-known for treatment but they are banned in sports because they are used in dangerous regimes and dosages. Another prominent one is the different drug candidates, meaning substances that have been proven to have an effect on metabolism but have not yet been identified or they have side effects that endanger health. If they are not yet known as medicines, then there is no test for it and therefore you should inject yourself with it. Some packaging should also have warnings of it not being for human use. Those substances have also come out in the process of collecting evidence," Port explained.
He continued: "Every medicine comes with a risk, monitored by a doctor. But there is no monitoring done here. Or rather, in some cases, a doctor like Mark Schmidt is monitoring but it is criminal activities toward the athletes and Schmidt is accused of endangering peoples' health. Our Mati Alaver case has no such accusation due to lack of evidence."
Alaver's actions were not as random as he initially stated. "Court files show systematic, consistent and thought-out actions which are not just having a number and you should call it. There were communications with the German doctor (Mark Schmidt - ed.) and our own athletes - about what they should do, which substances they should take and in which regime. He set all that up for athletes and they react and comment on what happens. It is an image created that it was just random advice - go see him, perhaps he can give better advice than I can. It was complete deception of the people," Port said.
Are Estonian sports cleaner now? "After each crisis, people get themselves together and try to be better. We did not use the last scandal. The current crisis has shocked many parties and the depth of disappointment and mistrust is so great, crossing it needs many correct steps to be taken," the sports biologist concluded.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste