Thorkildsen slams WADA’s new regulation critics

March 17th, 2009 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal Doha, March 17 (DPA) Two-time Olympic javelin champion Andreas Thorkildsen has thrown his full weight behind strict anti-doping regulations that have caused a heated privacy debate in professional sports.
The Norwegian star told DPA that these measures are necessary to ensure a level playing field.

Leading athletes including Germany football captain Michael Ballack, Spanish tennis world number one Rafael Nadal and American player Serena Williams have come out against the measures.

But Thorkildsen believes that not all athletes are against the new “whereabouts” regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), under which athletes must give a one-hour window of their whereabouts 365 days a year.

“It’s sad that it’s come to this, to catch a few you have to impose these rules on everybody,” the 27-year-old said at an early season training camp in Doha.

“But it’s the price you have to pay to be a professional athlete. If you want to have a clean sport you have got to sacrifice something. And I don’t think that’s a very big sacrifice compared to other jobs.”

Thorkildsen said it was something athletes like Ballack and Nadal should soon become accustomed to.

“For me it is really not a big problem because I have been working with such a system for many years, ever since I had my breakthrough internationally,” said the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medallist.

“We have been notifying the anti-doping body about where I was every day. I have kind of gotten used to it, so it is not a big deal. I have a very good team around me, and my coach does the planning and says where I am each day. He goes online and lets them know I’m available for example from 7-8am every day.”

While critics have decried the lack of privacy the rules give athletes, Thorkildsen said it was a necessary move in order to deter possible drug cheats.

“It is the possibility of it which is so important. Of course they will not come to test you every day; most athletes will be tested around 5-20 times out of competition,” he said.

“But most athletes know where they are going to be because of their training planning. I know three months in advance where I’m going to be. For me it was never a big deal.”

When asked if he could understand a group of Belgian athletes taking the matter to court, Thorkildsen said: “They raise an interesting question about the legality of it, but sport is not a job like being a journalist or a construction worker. It is not the same in that sense.

“I think doping is cheating people out of their livelihood. If I go into a competition and somebody uses doping to beat me, they get my prize money. I’d like everyone to be clean. But as long as it is possible to cheat, someone will cheat.”

The javelin star believes his discipline has been relatively untroubled by doping because of its highly technical nature.

“Javelin throw is 80-90 per cent technical, so I could go to the gym and focus on being 10 per cent stronger, but that wouldn’t help my throw. The technique would fall apart. So as long as there is no drug to make you technically better, there is not much to be gained. This is the reason javelin has been spared all the doping troubles.”

The Norwegian is spending five weeks in Doha in order to work out a winning formula to get a first world title in Berlin in August after having to settle for two silvers so far.

“Berlin is the big highlight, of course… What is still missing is a gold medal at the Worlds. I’d really like to get that gold this year,” Thorkildsen said.

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