Tox Tuesday: Doping and the 2018 Winter Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be underway next month, beginning February 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. And as with every set of Olympic Games, curbing illegal doping is a top concern for organizers.

Already, Russia has been banned from participating in the games after an International Olympic Committee investigation into prolonged doping over the years. However, Russian athletes who have historically passed drug tests can get permission to compete under a neutral Olympic flag.

The investigation found that during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, a team of people organized by Russia’s sports ministry tampered with more than 100 urine samples to hide evidence of athlete steroid use, the New York Times reports. Olympic officials are still rescinding medals from that year’s games after reexamining the tainted results, finding that many medal winners had abused steroids.

Most of the steroids used by the Russian Olympic team were oxandrolone, trenbolone and metenolone, according to Popular Science. These drugs are related to testosterone, and are used to build muscle mass. Trenbolone and metenolone are almost exclusively banned in all cases, though oxandrolone has some legitimate medical uses.

As a result of the investigation, the Russian Olympic Committee was fined $15 million, which is slated to be used for future drug testing of Olympic athletes.

All-in-all, more than 20,000 drug tests are expected to be conducted in anticipation of the Winter Games.

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