East Anglian Olympian slams drug taking

BRITAIN'S most decorated swimmer has branded drug taking the "worst thing" in sport.Karen Pickering, who lives in Ipswich, said that she was worried people who took the new 'designer' steroids were one step ahead of the testing process.

BRITAIN'S most decorated swimmer has branded drug taking the "worst thing" in sport.

Karen Pickering, who lives in Ipswich, said that she was worried people who took the new 'designer' steroids were one step ahead of the testing process.

Her comments came after top British sprinter and Olympic hopeful, Dwain Chambers, 25, tested positive for one of the drugs - the banned anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).

Miss Pickering, said: "Obviously it's the worst thing about sport generally and it's an issue that keeps coming up. Fortunately when there are positive tests it means the people who are cheating are being caught.


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"The thing that is worrying is that the drug is a designer steroid and I understand it was only discovered because the coach gave in a sample.

"It is worrying that the people that are cheating are always a step ahead but you have to feel confident that drug testing practices are being updated continually to keep up with developments.

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She added: "The thing with designer drugs is that there are people who have made promises and then tested positively some time after.

"That then makes you question how long they had taken drugs before they were caught."

There are different situations that result in people testing positive, including accidentally taking medication that contains banned substances or "blatantly" trying to cheat.

However Miss Pickering said the affect is the same, the athlete's performance is enhanced, and this influences the public's perception of sport.

"I think people still enjoy and appreciate sport and we are not at the stage where you look at sport and think that the whole thing is corrupted."

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced it would retest all 400 samples taken from competitors at the World Championships in Paris in August. Chambers was a member of Britain's silver medal-winning relay team in the city.

If a second test for the London-based athlete also proves positive, he could be suspended or even banned for life.

Miss Pickering said the action taken against athletes who test positive in Britain was "quite harsh" but necessary.

"So much is done to improve the testing and catch the people. Athletes are banned and there are repercussions so they are keen to be doing something about it. They do not want to be seen turning a blind eye to it.

"If you are tested positive you cannot compete for Britain in the Olympics but that is not a world-wide situation. It is taken very seriously in this country so when people are competing for Great Britain they have earned the right to be there."

She said the swimming team is "very strict" but she would be happy to be tested every week if it was necessary.

"We have to fill in forms so the board knows where we are for the next few months and to ensure we are not unreachable for testing.

"The British swimming team is clean. I cannot give guarantees as this is based on my own experiences but we have never had positive tests.

"It is nice to be part of a sport that does not have any problems," she said.

Miss Pickering's agency, Creating Excellence, said in a statement: "It is increasingly clear that the public wish to see sport at the highest level being ethically clean.

"It is however vital that agreed and robust systems are in place that protect the future of the sport and the confidentiality of the individual athlete.

"There is a due process that needs to be followed to allow the future of the sport to be protected - this is not a band wagon issue."

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