This article is part of a ParaSport News series of articles looking at doping in the Paralympic, Deaflympic and disability sports movement.
So far in 2016, the total number of identified doping sanctions in disability sports totals three. They involve an American table tennis player, an American track and field competitor, and an Indian judoka. This counts publicly available reports found in press released, media reports, relevant websites and published organizational documents by national anti-doping authorities, national sports organizations, international sports federations and the Court of Arbitration of Sports. Table tennis is the only sport in 2016 to have more known sanctions than occurred in the sport in the previous year. The data suggests that 2016 is on track to have similar or higher sanction totals compared to the previous year. Historic data from previous Summer Paralympic Games years suggest a potential spike related to dopers being caught at the Games or in out of competition testing prior to the Games, so 2016 is likely to finish slightly higher.
The total number of identified sanctions worldwide in 2015 were eleven, with Russia having 5 sanctioned sportspeople, and the United States, Canada, India, Peru, Poland and Spain having one sanctioned athlete each. Powerlifting and athletes were the most sanctioned sport in 2015, with three identified cases each. This was followed by swimming with two, and one each for wheelchair basketball, judo, and goalball.
Historically, the sport with greatest number of doping offenses has been powerlifting, with at least 95 identified cases of doping dating back to 1992. There are 56 incidents of doping dating back to 1986 where it is not possible for ParaSport News to identify which sport the offense occurred in. Doping offenses in powerlifting peaked at 16 in 2004, and then remained consistently between 4 and 10 cases between 2008 and 2014. Following big anti-doping efforts by the International Paralympic Committee, this number dropped to 3 in 2015 and remains at 0 so far this year.
The controversy in the past year involving Russian track and field competitors have brought renewed attention to the issue of doping in sports. As the Olympics and Paralympics draw closer, there is the question of how much of an issue doping is in sports more broadly and what to do about it. World Anti-Doping Agency senior manager Ben Nichols has suggested earlier this month that doping needs to be taken seriously but it should not be made into a criminal offense. At the same time, Nichols acknowledged that countries like Italy who have criminalized doping have made it easier to catch support personnel who assist in facilitating athlete doping. WADA does support criminalizing of trafficking and distribution of banned substances. World Anti-Doping Agency Director General David Howman earlier this month called for increased testing in amateur and school team sports, especially as youngsters look to these drugs to break into the elite level.
The data collected by ParaSport News for this report is available here for the benefit of other journalists and the sports community.