The new list of Ethiopian investigated for doping, probably involves one substance only, and this is MELDOMIUM.
WADA started to have suspects about this substance, because they cantinued to find it in the samples of cyclists. For that reason, they started to investigate the effects, and from 1st Jan 2016 decided to add to the list of prohibited substances.
It seems this substance was recently introduced in Ethiopia by some Turkish doctor. The medicine, in all its various names, can't be found in US and in many other European Countries (also not in Kenya), since it's not approved by the specific US commission. Why in Ethiopia only ? Probably for the connections they have with the communist Countries, looking at their recent history.
But at this point, we have to start to think about the "effects" of doping.
Is Meldonium REALLY useful ? And, if yes, why can be useful for Ethiopian only, and we don't find in other African Countries ?
Are the steroids involved in the 95% of the cases of doping in Kenya really effective ? And if yes, why rarely in other Countries we can find athletes positive at the same substance ?
The reality is that there are "Areas of influence" for different criminal organizations, exactly like in the drug market. So, in some area there are pushers of steroids, in other areas of Meldonium, in other areas of substances for covering some other doping.
While in cyclism, during Lance Armstrong's period, we could see cocktails of a lot of pharmacs, scientifically prepared, with a full pool of advanced doctors organizing every thing (and with a very high cost), in athletics we see simple doping, with athletes taking one illegal substance only, different from one area to another, and in the most part of cases very cheap, since they don't have money enough for some advanced doping (the cost of Meldonium seems to be about 2 USD per tablet).
So, this is my question : we don't discuss and not refuse the fact many African runner are now taking some illegal substance : this is a fact.
But the question is : how much effective these pharmacs can be, in the role of PEDs ?
I think in the mind of the athletes of today there is a clear overestimation of the effects on performances. This because seems doping is the main argument when we look at sport of today.
In this process, people of antidoping try to grow in importance, overrating the effects of many pharmacs that they don't know, and creating a widespread idea that all the best go to use some doping. But which doping ? The doping used by Ethiopian only ? Or the doping used by Kenyan only ? And with which control, and which organization at their shoulders ?
I was the first time in Kenya in 1998, and (apart the last two years when I was in China) normally I live 5-7 months in Iten every year. Also if I can personally say something changed (till 2010, I never heard some athletes asking for some supplement, today it seems everybody needs supplements for running slower than 10 years ago), I never had any suspicion about the best runners, since I coached athletes bettering WR who refused every kind of medicine, also when were sick (apart malaria). And these athletes were Shaheen, Nicholas Kemboi (moving in 2 months from 28'19" to 26'30" in 10000m, living in my same room in St. Moritz in 2003, so I perfectly know what he was eating and drinking), Moses Mosop, Florence Kiplagat, and also now I have athletes completely new and naive, like Ronald Kwemoi, who can become in two-three years the new WR holder of 5000m.
So, it's ridiculuous to say that there are limit under which it's possible to run only with external aid (legal or illegal).
The real battle against doping can't start with the idea that athletes can have a lot of advantage, but with the idea that is 99% completely USELESS (I speak about blood doping). We can accept the idea doping can be a shortcut FOR ACHIEVING THE SAME RESULTS of tough training, not the idea these results can become better.
I repeat again : I coach top African athletes from 18 years, and with them frequently I do common blood tests, in order to see their health (especially about Iron, Ferritine and Transferrin). NEVER I saw any link between high values of Hct and Hb and level of performances. For the same athlete, normally when the performance improved, the values became lower.
So, I think that the African athletes taking doping (and there are many) are the weakest under mental point of view, and don't have anybody able to guide them on a correct way of training. So, it's exactly the opposite of what the most part of people thinks : are free dogs without coach, and without good organization behind, who suppose to be able to fill the gap using some external aid (I repeat, for me legal or illegal are the same, because in any case is the same signal of weak mentality), and these athletes are abused by local doctors and pharmacists who put in their mind the idea doping can work for changing the performances of an athlete, from high-middle level to the top.
Abeba Aregawi in Ethiopia doesn't have any coach, but is her unofficial husband following her under technical point of view. This situation allows athletes to search individual solutions of every problem, without any real strategy. It's the technical confusion that brings athletes to look at some doping, not the reality of advantages in their performances.
Abeba had big problems in her back and in one leg during the last two years. Probably, she lost confidence looking at the great improvement of Genzebe and of Faith Kipyegon, and looked for something (at that time still legal) for recruiting the aerobic shape in shorter time.
But for reaching the top personal performances, there is a balance among the psychological situation, the methodological aspect and the level of the ambience around the athlete, that can't be reached working in one direction only. So, the most part of athletes doped, started to take PEDs AFTER having some problem, fearing not more possible to reach again the same levels (see the Italian walker Schwazer, winning 50 km walking in Beijing completely clean, and starting to look at doping in 2012, after one bad season in 2011), BUT WERE CLEAN WHEN THEY HAD FOR THE FIRST TIME THEIR BEST PERFORMANCES.
Top athletes can look at doping only when they discover their body is no longer able to sustain the same level of training, hoping to fill the gap in this way. Big mistake, because doping NEVER can replace the natural possibilities of a fresh mind and a fresh body, during the period of top motivation and when there is the opportunity to reach the best possible targets.
People don't use doping in order to conquest what they still don't have, but when they fear to lose what already have.