PtG Article 09.11.2005

Sandro Donati issues appeal to world governing bodies

Italian anti-doping fighter and Head of Research at the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Sandro Donati returned to the Play the Game with a strong appeal to global regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies to recognise the huge scale of the illegal doping trade – and step up efforts to combat it.

His plea was made after a detailed description of the movement of illegal performance-enhancing substances between nations and continents.

For two years, Sandro Donato has been working with the Italian National Anti-Mafia Directorate, investigating links between the international mafia and the doping trade.

These links, he said, have now been conclusively proven. He proceeded to give a shocking exposé of the apparent ease in which performance-enhancing drugs can pass through borders undetected, and a sweeping indictment of various regulatory bodies for their failure to address the problem.

Examples of recent developments in the areas of smuggling and trade included the discovery of 300 kg of ephedrine in the Naples area, the legal marketing of the steroid fertabolin in Malaysia and the dubious marketing activities of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Serono.

Donati also claimed that the Russian mafia controls much of the world’s trade in anabolic steroids, and stated bluntly that the Russian pharmaceutical industry is predominantly controlled by the mafia. He named Thailand, India, Australia, Greece, Mexico, China and Russia as nations heavily involved in the doping trade, and contested that the connection with recreational drugs through mafia involvement makes the illegal trade in doping even more dangerous.

He estimated that trafficking over the Internet could be responsible for 50 percent of all sales of performance-enhancing substances by 2007.

Mafia involvement in doping, he asserted, has its roots in the 1970’s when crime organisations were financing pornography and bodybuilding films such as the Arnold Schwartzenegger vehicle Pumping Iron. Much of the California Governor’s success, claimed Donati, is due to steroids, which he has never denied taking.

Donati also referred to another former abuser who launched his career through the trade, David Jenkins - a former European 400m Champion 1971 who served a prison term for steroid smuggling in 1988 is now a multi-millionaire, holding a top position with one of North America’s largest ‘protein supplement’ companies.

A recent case in which steroids worth 10 million US dollars were seized on the Arabian Peninsula led Donati to believe that up to 40 similar shipments could have got through – probably destined for male Arabic users in their teens or in their early twenties. He also stated that there is strong reason to think that local Iraqis are selling steroids to US servicemen.

The issues were further clouded by his examination of the different motivations for the consumption of black market drugs and urged his audience to distinguish between performance-enhancers, image-enhancers, military usage, usage in showbusiness and the distorted use of therapy.

Sandro Donati concluded his speech by referring to what he saw as a golden opportunity lost ttwelve years ago, when a major 19-nation conference in Prague hosted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had the opportunity to make major inroads into the problem.

However, Donati stated that none of the organisations attending the conference has gone on to formulate its own policy relating to the smuggling of performance enhancing drugs. Interpol, Europol, the EU, The WHO and even WADA all need to formulate and coordinate their own individual policies on doping smuggling, he said.

In addition, he regretted the fact that very few countries have specific rules and penalties relating to the smuggling of performance-enhancing steroids and other drugs, while specific information on smuggling is conspicuously absent from the websites of all the organisations he named.

Sandro Donati urged global regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies to recognise the huge scale of the illegal doping trade


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