His job:To test YOG athletes for prohibited substances
BEWARE this drug-buster.
He tests athletes for drugs during the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Meet Mr Eddie Ang, 65, a cluster venue doping control manager from the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (SYOGOC) anti-doping programme.
He said: “We check if athletes are taking prohibited substances. We carry out the tests and ensure they are conducted properly and professionally.”
To this end, all urine tests have to be conducted in toilets which can accommodate two people – the athlete, and a doping control officer (DCO) or chaperone of the same gender, who must watch the athlete provide the sample.
A booklet detailing the doping control procedures said that the DCO must “ensure an unobstructed view of the sample leaving the athlete’s body”.
If any clothing restricts the clear view of the sample provision, the DCO must instruct the athlete to remove or adjust such clothing.
The officer must also continue to observe the sample until after it is securely sealed.
This is to ensure samples have not been manipulated, substituted or tampered in any way.
There is a list of substances prohibited during the period of the YOG, released by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) last September.
These include anabolic steroids, chemicals that can be injected into the body to help a person grow muscle and become stronger very quickly.
Narcotics and all stimulants are also not allowed during the Games.
To protect the privacy of the athletes, no photographs are made available.
An SYOGOC spokesman said: “The objective of the doping control programme is to deliver a testing programme in accordance with Wada’s international standards for testing.”
Testing is done by 55 doping control officers – supported by 300 volunteers – at 16 doping control stations.
These serve the 18 competition venues .
The venue doping control managers are seconded from government agencies like the Health Promotion Board, Singapore Sports Council, and the Ministry of Community Development, Youthand Sports.
All in, 1,200 doping control tests will be done during the Games. (See report below.)
Athletics and swimming need the most number of tests because of the sheer number of events in those disciplines, said Mr Ang.
Before his retirement three years ago, Mr Ang was an inspector of medical laboratories with the Health Ministry.
He has also been involved with sport for more than 20 years, mostly as a badminton umpire.
He was introduced to doping control about 15 years ago as the tournament director for a badminton open championship.
He became a certified DCO after he joined the YOG organising committee two years ago.
Has he encountered anything interesting during this YOG?
“That’s quite tricky. I don’t think I should say at this stage.”
But he did recall having to follow an athlete for three hours during the Vancouver Winter Olympics in February. The gold medallist had broken a world record and was due for a drug test.
For three hours, Mr Ang could not let him out of his sight. He had to trail the athlete to his room, watch the athlete change and take photos with the coach.
All that time, Mr Ang could neither eat nor answer nature’s call.
He said: “Luckily, I had had my toilet break and my meals beforehand.”
Test samples are couriered overseas
A DOPING control test consists of a urine test, and may also include a blood test.
Athletes may be selected:
Based on their finishing positions during the day’s competitions
If they have been targeted for testing.
This could be because they have broken a world record, or because their results have improved dramatically over a short period of time.
If chosen, they will need to take the test after their events.
They will be informed by a doping control officer or chaperone, who will shadow them until the sample has been collected.
This may mean having to follow the athletes to medal ceremonies and even press conferences.
Each test typically takes 30 to 40 minutes.
Collected samples are placed in sealed test kits, then couriered overseas to a laboratory accredited by Wada for analysis.
The laboratory will provide the results to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) two weeks after the last YOG competition.
Athletes who fail the doping control tests may face individual or team disqualification.
In the case of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver earlier this year, negative results were typically determined within 24 hours of the samples reaching the laboratory.
Positive results could take up to 72 hours to determine.