As part of the Badminton World Federation’s global campaign “I am Badminton”, the Latvian Badminton Federation together with the Latvian Anti-Doping Bureau held a discussion “Say no to doping!”. On 3 March, an interesting and important online discussion via Zoom was held.
“These pandemic times are very suitable for such discussions. Subsequently, in connection with anti-doping issues, we decided to act proactively so that Latvian badminton would continue to be as clean as before,” explains Kristians Rozenvalds, Secretary General of the Latvian Badminton Federation.
During the discussion, Latvian badminton players, coaches, club leaders, young people and parents, as well as the Latvian Anti-Doping Bureau experts on education and information, Ivan Shaposhnikov and the Latvian Anti-Doping Bureau legal expert Roberts Lauris all participated. The discussion was chaired by Viesturs Bajārs, Member of the Board of the Latvian Badminton Federation and Head of the Athletes’ Commission.
“Many Latvian badminton players have a misconception that doping tests affect only Olympians and somewhere far abroad. No, it’s not! Since 2019, doping controls have been in the Latvian championships in 2019 and 2020, Latvian players were also tested during the Yonex Latvia International 2020,” comments Viesturs Bajārs.
Roberts Lauris added that doping tests can be performed not only in Latvian championships but in any tournament included in the calendar of the Latvian Badminton Federation.
“Badminton is a well-known sport that requires a lot of endurance, strength, speed, reactions, but I do not see anything that everyone could not improve with purposeful training. No sense in risking! The penalties are too severe – not only a ban on playing, not only deprivation of previously won medals, but also an enduring entry in the biography,” believes Roberts Lauris.
“Athletes need to be especially careful about drugs! For young athletes, it probably seems that no one will ever find out about that one party. Otherwise, this information could really remain only with friends, but if drugs are detected in doping tests, then the athlete will be disqualified for a certain period of time, and law enforcement authorities can be informed about this fact,” warns Roberts Lauris.
Listing the cases of doping in badminton discovered in the world in recent years, Ivan Shaposhnikov believes that in most of them, the player has not tried to improve his athletic performance, but has ‘fallen’ due to ignorance or careless behaviour. “It simply came to our notice then. That is why it is so important that athletes pay extra attention to these issues because all the responsibility lies with them,” says Ivan Shaposhnikov.
“When visiting doctors, athletes have a duty to say that they are subject to potential anti-doping tests. There have been cases of GPs prescribing Mildronate, for example, as a vitamin for burnout and fatigue syndromes. Athletes are obliged to ask more insistently whether there is no alternative to a doping drug. Of course, there are cases when drugs on the doping list are necessary to maintain health or even to save. In such cases, the Athlete must obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption, but consider that the decision will not be made by a GP or physician of any other speciality but by an independent council of Sports Physicians. It must be understood that the purpose of anti-doping programs is not to capture the accidental use of Mildronate, but to promote fairness, equality and the health of athletes in sports, explains Ivan Shaposhnikov.
“Superficial treatment is sometimes seen when buying food supplements. The athlete must choose a reliable supplier while minimising risks. It is also the case that athletes themselves insist that they want something ‘more effective’. Then they justified themselves in buying such a dietary supplement officially, showing a check. But that does not absolve you of responsibility! The athlete is responsible for using only those food supplements for which he is convinced that they do not contain any prohibited substances,” says Ivan Shaposhnikov.
“As a specialist with 30 years of experience, I can only say that I do not remember one case where an athlete accused of doping had completely recovered from this stain on their career. Yes, he/she may have made an appeal. Probably after their return, even achieved great victories. However, the one time they were linked to doping is still dragging on. Therefore, I do not recommend anyone to get into such a situation,” urges Kristians Rozenvalds, a public relations specialist and the head of the Latvian Badminton Federation.
Ivan Shaposhnikov praised the Latvian Badminton Federation as one of the leaders in initiating such an open internal discussion. “I am glad that people in badminton, including athletes and coaches, are encouraged to think about the values in their sport. I am convinced that all athletes want to compete in a fair environment,” summed up Ivan Shaposhnikov.
“Latvian badminton is clean now. No Latvian badminton player is involved in any of doping scandal. We must maintain this position! Therefore, it is important to warn not only those who decide to act unfairly, but also to inform every player, young person, coach and parents in order to prevent mistakes due to ignorance or carelessness, ”Viesturs Bajārs emphasized at the beginning of the discussion.
The ‘Say no to doping!’ discussion took place as part of the BWF ‘I am Badminton’ campaign, promoting clean and fair sports. As part of the campaign, the Latvian Badminton Federation also plans to hold other discussions, including on sweepstakes and unfair practices during games. Specialised discussions for judges, coaches and competition organisers are also planned.
The campaign also produced 1,000 car stickers with the inscription ‘I am Badminon.lv’, thus promoting not only the global campaign and its values but also the membership of Latvian players, coaches and parents in the Latvian badminton community.
For more information about the ‘I am Badminton’ initiative, click here.
For the full 90-minute discussion (in Latvian), click here.