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Why drug test results are kept secret in natural bodybuilding

Is your lab credible? Will it stand behind its results?
Is your lab credible? Will it stand behind its results?
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Every natural bodybuilder aspires to compete on a level playing field but, realistically, the proliferation of illegal performance-enhancing drugs over the past several decades has made it impossible without drug testing. This has prompted the formation of a multitude of (mostly) non-profit natural bodybuilding corporations that sanction and promote drug-tested events for those athletes who “choose” to compete without artificial enhancement. However, natural bodybuilding organizations have consistently opted not to reveal the names of those bodybuilders who fail the drug tests. Why?

There are several possible reasons:

  • Organizations may, in fact, NOT be testing even though they promote themselves as “natural.” (After all, how would you ever know if no one is ever revealed to have tested positive?) Unscrupulous promoters could simply be pocketing the drug testing fees that contestants pay as part of their entry fee.
  • Organizations may not want to alienate cheaters by embarrassing them for making a different “choice.” Many people within some organizations look at the use of performance-enhancing drugs as merely a different “choice” rather than the illegal act it is and, in effect, condone breaking the law by their acceptance and lack of condemnation.
  • Organizations may be afraid of being sued by athletes who fail a drug test. Of course, people can sue for any reason whatsoever, but it doesn’t mean they will win – especially if there is reliable evidence to prove that they cheated.
  • Organizations may not feel comfortable that all of their contest promoters are following the correct protocol for drug testing (sample collection, chain of custody, storage, etc.) that might expose them to litigation. Do something about it. Train and work with promoters to ensure that everyone is on the same page and following the same protocol.
  • Organizations may not be confident that the laboratory that is performing their testing for urine (or blood) is competent to withstand a court challenge. Change laboratories.
  • Organizations may not be confident that their polygraph test would not withstand a court challenge. And they would be right because the so-called polygraph they are using is not really a polygraph anyway. Only a full polygraph can withstand a court challenge when admitted.

If natural bodybuilding organizations are, indeed, conducting legitimate testing and do not reveal the names of athletes who fail their drug tests AND share the names (and test results) with other organizations in the spirit of their common cause, the cheaters will be allowed to continue their deceit without consequences, thereby defeating the very purpose of drug testing in the first place. If they are secretly banned by one organization for failing a drug test and no one else knows about it, they will simply bounce from one organization to the next with total disregard for the integrity of the sport.

Only transparency and cooperation will truly level the playing field and begin to unify the sport. No more secrets.