Doping possible at the nearest pharmacy, survey shows
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Olympic champion Aslı Çakır Alptekin and European champion Nevin Yanıt is facing serious doping allegations. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
As numerous branches of Turkish sports face a devastating wave of doping scandals, a study by two university students has revealed just how easy it is to access illegal performance-enhancing drugs in Turkey.
A thesis research conducted by two graduate students of Hacettepe University in Ankara showed that obtaining drugs without prescription, which are in fact proper medicines used to cure diseases, was quite easy.
Kevser Çiftçi and Tuğba Köksal, graduate students at Hacettepe University’s School of Sports Sciences and Technology, went to 150 pharmacies in Ankara and asked for erythropoietin (EPO), a medicine normally illegal to sell without a prescription. They obtained EPO in 127 pharmacies out of the 150, which were located in three different neighborhoods of Ankara, Anadolu Agency reported.
Çiftçi said the medicine, which is generally used to cure kidney problems and anemia, was on the blacklist of the World Anti-Doping Agency and that it could be detected with the biologic passport. “The fact that they asked if we were sportsmen in some of the pharmacies shows that this medicine is used in sporting activities,” Çiftçi said.
The scandals regarding doping by Turkish athletes have been coming one after the other since Olympic champion Aslı Çakır Alptekin and European champion Nevin Yanıt faced allegations of doping in April, though no official confirmation came regarding either of the athletes. The star athletes were left out of the Turkish squad and also suspended from international competitions.
In addition, eight weightlifters were left off the Turkish national squad ahead of the Mediterranean Games, which took place between June 20 and 30 in Turkey’s Mersin, after testing positive for doping.
Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) Chairman Mehmet Terzi admitted on June 27 that 24 athletes were suspected of doping this year. Terzi said the federation’s battle with doping would continue, claiming that doping figures would decrease by September.
Haydar Demirel, a member of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey Anti-Doping Commission and principal of the Hacettepe University School of Sports Sciences and Technology, said it was worrisome that illegal performance enhancing material could be found easily.
Age of doping use falls
“We know that the age to start using doping has fallen considerably. A youngster can go to the pharmacy and obtain [drugs] if he wishes to try it,” said Demirel, adding, “Alex Schwarzer, an Italian athlete who was suspended from his national team before the 2012 London Olympics because of doping, had said he obtained the drugs from Antalya without a prescription. He had added that it was easy to access such drugs in countries like Turkey. According to Demirel, Schwarzer was accurate in his statement.
Secretary-general of the Turkish Pharmacists’ Association Harun Kızılay confirmed the illegal sale of EPO and said they would investigate into the issue. “The information that reaches us is certainly evaluated and necessary procedures are taken,” Kızılay said.
Nine weightlifters were found to contain evidence of doping at the Turkish Youth Championship on March 14 to 17 in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, after an examination took place. Another nine weightlifters were detected to have doped in the adults tournament in the Aegean province of Denizli between April 25 and 28.
The previous board of Turkey’s Weightlifting Federation had resigned following a second scandal earlier this year, when five Turkish weightlifters tested positive for doping during the European Under-23 Championships in Israel.