Bhutanese athletes at risk of unintentional doping

Although Bhutan records no incident of its athletes doping, the Bhutan Anti-Doping Committee (BADC) said that Bhutanese athletes are at risk of unintentional (inadvertent) doping.

Inadvertent doping occurs when an athlete, who is on medication or is taking supplement, is found to be under the influence of prohibited substance unintentionally. Testing positive for a drug, even if unintentionally would lead to doping violations and sanctions.

Director at BADC, Nima Gyeltshen said that athletes are exposed to the risk of unintentional doping given the kind of sports culture and celebrations the country practices. “We have a habit of celebrating sports achievements by going to bars and clubs. If we conduct a doping test, the result would be positive. This is because of lack of awareness among athletes of doping,” he said.

He said that the result of unintentional doping according to world anti-doping code has no excuse. “The sanctions would be applied. Athletes should be responsible for medication and type of substance they use.”

BADC conducted awareness and education programme on doping and anti-doping rules during its annual meeting with national sports federations, representatives from athletes and women commissions in Thimphu on September 25.

Officials from BADC sensitised representatives on common incidents and practices that would lead to unintentional doping. Nima Gyeltshen said an athlete should be aware of the prohibited substance. “There are certain medicines and injury treatment that would include prohibited substance. An athlete should inform doctors to avoid using prohibited substance during medication,” he said.

Some supplements that athletes use would contain prohibited substance, he said. Passive smoking marijuana and consumption of bread, pork, and beef contaminated with steroids used as additional animal feed would also result in testing positive. “Certain herbal and indigenous medicine of unknown chemical composition would also lead to unintentional doping.”

BADC conducted doping test in selected sports like football, basketball and athletic competitions last year. The test collected 13 samples and the results were negative. The samples collected were sent to World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), accredited laboratory. A doping test of a sample cost USD 250. The test was conducted with support from WADA.

President of Bhutan Karate Association, Ugyen Wangchuk said that the time has come for Bhutan to implement the test. “Although we don’t have major doping incidents, we have youth getting into substance abuse,” he said. “Anti-doping isn’t only about the sanctions. It is also about taking care of health and upholding the spirit of sports. It would protect the name of athletes, federations and the country.”

BADC found the need to create awareness and educate athletes on anti-doping because of the increasing numbers of local tournaments, tournaments becoming  competitive and more athletes taking part in regional competitions.

Nima Gyeltshen said that anti-doping is about protecting the health of an athlete. Doping in long run causes health implications and loss of organs. It is also about maintaining a level playing field and upholding the integrity of sports.  “Athletic career in the country is not professional and the doping policies are taken lightly,” he said.

The doping committee does not yet have an independent authority to conduct its programmes effectively, said officials.

The day-long awareness and education programme also talked about localising the doping rules and regulations to suit the level of competition and seasonal athletic career.


1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    The topic mentioned here is indeed both unintentionally and unconditionally worrying if being looked at as an issue for some serious consideration. So many times, it even comes down a an individual athlete or sports person feeling rather unlucky for the fact that it’s his sample getting picked for a random variation sample testing by the designated authorities. Such incidents do happen and you even get to follow such stories in media.

    If we are to go by the recent developments and happenings with professionals, engaged elsewhere than in the field of sports and athletics, getting suspended from their workplaces for drug and narcotics related abuses; it’s even bigger an issue to worry about for some serious consideration and thinking. It’s not always about an individual’s personal lifestyle, it’s also about a collective life style. In something like an aviation industry, at times even body weight and overall health management may become a routine habit.

    We have also read the authority from BADC talk about side affects from certain medication or even food items that we buy and consume having a chance of being contaminated with steroids that may lead to a failure in a dope test. If we commoner are into doing our day to day shopping for the cooking needs, we anyway don’t think a dope test. There is no need to think about one. Probably even a body like BADC needs not think about it outside sports and athletics.

    Even in the field of medication, an expert for health matters may not think side affects upfront. You usually find that piece of paper inside the medicine box that comes with possible side affects and what to be done in case there are affects. And it usually comes as a precautionary warning; only the affects can be felt if the desired effects don’t deliver results. Even that involves risks and may lead to unintentional dope test failure even if one is not involved with any sports. Such side affects don’t necessarily appear or become observable in all cases of routine medication moving from individual to individual.

    Moreover, you don’t expect any anti drug and narcotics agency to think desired effects of drugs against side affects. And whenever we mention taking good care of our health, both physical and mental; no one is usually considering a failure with any dope test or the legal actions that follows, not when you are either beginning a career in sports or you are not at all involved in sports.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply