Drugs In Sport: Independent Survey - Problem is here to stay says Baulch

One of Britain's leading runners says cheats are ruining his sport.

Ian Pocock
Friday 11 December 1998 00:02 GMT

JAMIE BAULCH, one of Britain's leading 400m runners, has accused some of the world's top track athletes of using illegal drugs. While not willing to name anyone involved or talk about the specific substances being abused, the Welshman said: "It's a real shame when I am out there training every day and you know that there is somebody in front of me and behind me who is taking the stuff.

"You always get it. There is always going to be somebody out there who is going to do something they shouldn't but the problem is that I can't see it ever being stopped."

Baulch's accusations come as The Independent's survey of drug use in British sport showed that only three per cent of the country's leading men and women in athletics think their sport is clean and 64 per cent do not think current drugs regulations are appropriate and need to be tightened. The survey showed 27 per cent of athletes believe EPO (erythropoietin, a substance which increases the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity) is being abused, 19 per cent cited human growth hormone as a problem and 16 per cent thought fellow athletes were using steroids.

"It would be nice to think that this is something which could go away but the truth is that those who cheat seem to always be one step in front of the testers," Baulch said.

"It [drug taking by other athletes] really frustrates me and I am not against them [the authorities] doing blood tests to make sure it doesn't happen but I can't see that they can stop the problem."

Baulch's claims come at the end of a season where he battled back from a blood disorder which threatened to destroy his career. After a gruelling rehabilitation schedule, he returned to the international arena, for Wales, at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, only just missing out on a medal.

"I have never wanted to take drugs," Baulch said. "Despite it being illegal, you don't know what the effects are. We're seeing now some of those effects with the East German athletes and if you did take drugs, it must be of huge concern to you.

"It is not for me to make the big decisions over testing but whatever test they can do, they should." Many athletes responding to The Independent's survey called for the introduction of mandatory blood testing.

Baulch's anger at the cheats stems from fear that athletics is becoming irreversibly damaged and that the war against drugs is being lost. "It is so bad for the sport," he said. "It is because I can't see that anything can be done, that I am so angry."

Iwan Thomas, meanwhile, has claimed that creatine gave him leg cramps which threatened to ruin his season. The world No 3 400m runner was advised to take the legal performance-enhancing food supplement 18 months ago but after suffering severe cramp in his calf muscles, he says he will avoid it in future.

"I found that creatine gave me cramp and I decided not to take it," Thomas said. "It affected my calf muscles and I felt that I couldn't risk it in a race. You don't need it. I am strong enough to not need it and I won't ever use it again."

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