A new paper (Faiss et al. 2020) reports that 15% of male and 22% of female endurance athletes at the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Championships engaged in “blood doping” — defined as the use of prohibited methods to boost red blood cell amounts. No athletes are identified by name or country in the analysis, and no specific athlete is implicated in this post. However, the aggregate numbers are stunning.
Specifically, in endurance the analysis found 246 female dopers at Daegu 2011 and 276 at Moscow 2013. For males it was 323 in Daegu 2011 and 376 at Moscow 2013. According to the BBC, only 0.5% of doping tests performed at Daegu 2011 were positive. If we apply that ratio to the number of athletes included in the new Faiss et al. 2020 study, it results in 9 athletes who would have tested positive at both Daegu and Moscow.
If we assume that all these positive tests were for blood doping (they weren’t, but it gives us a ceiling on the results) hat means that anti-doping testing caught at most 1.6% of known dopers at the 2011 World Championships and 1.4% in 2013. In other words, in 2011 about 560 known dopers got away with doping, and in 2013 it was more than 640 known dopers.
The study found doping among athletes from at least 18 countries (minimum 10 athletes). For one country, the study reports that the prevalence of blood doping was greater than 90% of its female athletes, with 3 countries showing a prevalence of greater than 50% (minimum 10 athletes).
The new analysis — funded by WADA — provides further evidence that anti-doping, as presently conceived, simply does not work.