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Sasseville Report – What do you Think is it Doping or Isn’t It ?

by Jack Sasseville

September 08, 2016 – Ok, I am going to give you some hypothetical situations and I want you to tell me if you think that it is doping or not. In all of these situations the person (athlete) can live a normal life but when they do their sport, especially at the maximum level needed in order to be successful, they are unable to compete with others due to a genetic deficiency.

Situation #1
The athlete competes in weight lifting and is fairly strong but is unable to lift the same amount of weight as his/her peers is a weight lifting contest. It is not a lack of training but a lack of testosterone in the body. Should the athlete be allowed to take testosterone to build up their muscles so that they can lift more weight?

Situation #2
The athlete loves to train and knows that in order to be competitive with the best athletes in their sport he/she will have to train more. This athlete has tried to train more, but gets really tired and is unable to recover fast enough between workouts. Should this athlete be allowed to take steroids or other drugs to help to recover faster?

Situation #3
The athlete competes in a sport where oxygen transport and a high VO2 max is very important. At rest or in easy training the athlete has no problem transporting enough 02 but at max effort it is not enough. Should this athlete be allowed to use EPO so that they can transport more 02 and be competitive with the best in the world?

Situation #4
The athlete has no problem breathing normally at rest or when training easily but when this athlete is working at near maximum levels he/she wheezes heavily especially in cold weather or at altitude. Should this athlete be allowed to take asthma medication in order to breathe better in these situations?

What do you think? Put aside any bias you might have for or against certain athletes or teams to help you to make your decisions. Are these situations all the same or is each one different from the other?

Where do you draw the line? What is therapeutic and what is doping? What is the difference between helping a deficiency and performance enhancing?

Should it make any difference how much of a drug you take? If I take a little bit and it makes me feel better, is that ok? If I take more than a certain amount, how much do I need to take before it is deemed to be performance enhancing? Keep in mind that everyone reacts to every drug differently and different doses have different results and side effects for different people.


8 Comments For This Post

  1. sporto1, AB, Canada says:

    They’re all doping. In none of the situations described was the athlete prevented from competing or participating in the sport from the deficiency. The deficiency prevented them from being at the sharp end of the bunch – nothing else.

    This is the hard reality of sport, at the upper levels, the differences between athletes – genetics, training, nutrition, experience, mental strength, etc. are revealed. Many will try to be the best but only a few will rise to the top. Is it ‘fair’? … nope, but it’s reality. There is already a massive grey area of stimulants, therapeutic use exemptions and supplements … widening the range of pharmaceuticals isn’t going to clean up sport.

  2. hiballer, sk, Canada says:

    Interesting situations that will no doubt provoke thought and discussion.

    There is no advantage gained by taking a short acting beta agonist (Salbutamol/VENTOLIN), if one is healthy, and not suffering from an exacerbation of Asthma. In fact, taking a higher than recommended dose, COULD have consequences that MAY decrease performance, and could potentially be dangerous.

    More importantly, Salbutamol is not a WADA banned drug. It requires a therapeutic use exemption (TUE), for dosages that exceed a certain level, but it isn’t banned.

    As such, it is my opinion that Scenario #4 is not doping.

    I think the more important question is; why in the heck are these athletes taking so much VENTOLIN?

  3. Jack Sasseville, Ontario, Canada says:

    hiballer – the TUE for Salbutamol is something new that has only happened in the past few years. Previous to that it was banned. In the UCI even if you have a TUE you are restricted from competing for a certain time period after using it. Also, there is some evidence that these beta agonists can mask the use of other banned substances.

  4. hiballer, sk, Canada says:

    JS – Thanks for that information! It would be very sad news if Salbutamol is being used for masking.

    I would support an athlete that suffers from asthma taking a recommended dosing of Salbutamol, or even a corticosteroid, to treat symptoms of asthma. I think WADA provided a very generous dosing in their Salbutamol exemption. Taking too much Salbutamol means either; you are very sick and should not be racing, or – as you point out – you are up to something. The goal in treating asthma from my understanding is to get to a point where you don’t have to take a “rescue” from Salbutamol. A couple of puffs prior to warm-up for prophylaxis of symptoms I support, but more than half a dozen through a day and/or sitting over a nebulizer means that you are too sick to race.

    Thank-you for your thought provoking article Sir.

  5. Jack Sasseville, Ontario, Canada says:

    hiballer – hot off the press – research from Denmark that shows that high doses of Salbutamol can be performance enhancing. Check out for the article.

  6. Quenor, Rogaland, Norway says:

    Thank you Jack that was interesting

    Something that is very (very) little known, but true, is that most ailments and diseases can be eliminated easily if one prioritizes to detoxify. Asthma for example is a symptom of the lungs being congested with mucus….down into the tissues between the cells…also called the lymphatic system. Man’s poor modern day diet with too much animal protein, milk products, starches and refined sugars has led to a systemic intercellular congestion and cellular weakness. This congestion is acidic, and mucus-rich. Asthma is simply an advanced stage of tissue congestion. With fruits, raw veggies, and fasting, you will eliminate those acids and this congestion, and will alkalize yourself in addition to hydrating yourself deeply once mucus is gone to a large extent.

    So, no need for pharmaceuticals. Marit Bjørgen, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, and many others, can cure themselves….if they only knew. Many have. There are many testimonials out there.

    Also, instead of drugs, one could use naturopathic herbs. They are even easy to find in nature, or order from suppliers for example in CA. They do wonders in assisting the body to heal and support its organs. Such as the lungs.

    So, being convinced of this for having tried it all these past years, I would love to see a future free of pharmaceutical and doping. And one where there is focus on healing, rejuvenation, and support of our organs, glands, and all cells

  7. xcskier22, Montana, says:

    This is a very serious issue that the Norwegians, WADA, CAS and FIS are facing. Technically, the onus is on the Norwegians to explain themselves, in an honest, constructive fashion, but all signs point in a different direction. The NSF has continued to act as a victim rather than an organization that encouraged medication use to most, if not all, its national team members, those with legitimate asthma problems and those that have none.

    It starts from the top, the Olympiatoppen, which has worked with doctors and asthma doctors specifically (a few of those doctors have actually worked with WADA) who then guide and recommend medications to the NSF, which relays this to their coaches and finally those national team coaches work with the athletes and personal/club coaches (if athletes on the national team have personal coaches).

    Sundby and the coaches knew exactly what they were doing, how they were doing it and when they were doing it. That’s one of the issues. Sundby was pumping himself with something like 10x as much as the legal WADA limit in terms of Nebulizers. And he was doing it a few hours before the races he was busted in. For him and the NSF to act as if they did nothing wrong is foolish.

    The biggest issue, for me at least, is the fact that FIS defended Sundby and the NSF and instead of going with WADA’s recommendation of a sanction for Sundby, they fought it, and hence the almost 2 year wait in the decision. That’s incredibly unprofessional. It reeks of favoritism and the fact that it was kept under wraps for so long makes me think corruption and secrecy. It also makes me wonder just how many cases like this have gone on behind the scenes? And what of the 2 month suspension, during the summer months??? You want to make a statement? Suspend him for two years, not two months during the summer!!

    Recent Norwegian media reports (shortly after news on Sundby broke two months ago) showed that 2/3 of Norwegian medals at the Olympics since 1992 were won by athletes ‘suffering’ form asthma. That’s quite remarkable if you ask me. Now, everyone knows (and if they don’t, they ought to do some research) that the 90’s was just a dirty decade and not just in xc skiing, but the world of sport. You had the EPO era and blood doping in cycling, steroids and HGH in the MLB and NFL, the USOC, USATF and IOC covering up hundreds of positive tests by US athletes, Andre Agassi’s silent ban after winning in the Atlanta Olympics, stories of doping in East and West Germany finally coming out…etc, etc, so it really beggars belief.

    To get to the point, unfortunately, now that this asthma medication manipulation has been made public (finally), it might be hard for some to distinguish doping and non-doping. I am certainly not a scientist, but from what we have seen in the past couple months, and putting the pieces together from uses of meds in previous years and the possibility of abusing the TUE’s (if you even apply for a TUE, which incidentally Sundby didn’t…) then there is a dark cloud or two hanging over the Norwegians. When your top Olympic heads work with former WADA doctors that encourage use of meds on healthy athletes, then there is something organized and dare I say, systematic about that.

  8. Marty Hall, NH, USA says:

    Davor–some of your best writing –really lots of showing what you know and have read and researched now spilling out in a good writing format!
    It’s a sorry state of affairs and there doesn’t seem to be a leader on the good side of affairs at this time.
    I think all the big shots are hoping this all goes away with time. It is surely the way I see FIS thinking—Lewis and Kasper—have had to know all this was going on and will continue their “no action” program.
    We need a Anti-Drug Lord—who and where he is, and will come from—God only knows.
    I’m even saddened by the lack of athlete/skier feedback about Sochi and the Russian’s non-participation at the Rio Olympics—its like they don’t care. Shameful to say the least—the platform is there to speak out from—-JUST DO IT—-YOU ARE THE POWER!!!

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