KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 – More drug tests will be carried out in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games including blood screening that was introduced at the Singapore Games to weed out cheats. The over 4,000 athletes from the 11 countries will face advanced anti-doping technology similar to the Olympic drug testing standard, according to the man in charge, Datuk Dr S. S. Cheema, who heads the Kuala Lumpur 2017 medical and anti-doping committee.

“There is no way to escape because we will test both urine and blood samples. Once the athletes check into their hotels, we will start to conduct random tests or out of competition test at any time. Medal winners will be tested 100 per cent,” he told Bernama before the official opening of the Games on Aug 19. The number of tests will be higher this time because Malaysia are hosting 38 sports with 404 events compared to 36 sports and 402 events in Singapore, said Dr Cheema.

However, he declined to reveal how many sample tests would be carried out compared to the 600-plus conducted by the island state. He has a task force of 150 including 80 anti-doping control officers from the Anti-Doping Agency of Malaysia (ADAMAS) to collect the samples which will be sent for testing in New Delhi, India, and the results can be expected as early as within 48 hours.

Positive results or any adverse analytical finding will be reported to the Southeast Asia Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (SEA RADO) and Games organising committee. Among the common substance abuse are weight reducing and performance enhancing drugs, masking agents to disguise the presence of other drugs and erythropoietin, otherwise known as blood doping, said Dr Cheema, who has served as medical chairman in the Olympic Council of Malaysia for the past seven years.

“The type of the substance used depends on the sports, like beta blockers to have steady hands in sports like shooting and archery, steroids for stamina speed and power, diuretics to reduce weight so they can compete in a different category. Every sport has the chance of having cheats, ” he added. 

Several participating countries are already taking precautions and have submitted more than 100 medical applications to Dr Cheema’s committee for Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code. However, most of the applications are not under the scope of the TUE, meaning they are permitted by WADA, he said.

On medical services, Dr Cheema said about 1,700 personnel and 80 ambulances will be deployed with doctors and medical officers assigned to competition arenas and medical rooms in the various venues. “We will even station specialists for high impact sports like rugby, We have two Games medical centres, they are National Sports Institute and Klinik Kesihatan Kuala Lumpur and serious cases will be sent to the nearest hospital,” he added. — Bernama

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