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Byline: follow us on twitter @walesonsunday Final Word ANDY HOWELL THE BIG OPINION IN SPORT

MIKE TYSON is the latest top sportsman to confess to using banned drugs.

"I was a full-blown cokehead," revealed the former world heavyweight boxing champion in his autobiography, 'The Undisputed Truth'.

The American claims he fought while high on drugs and used a fake penis to fool dope testers.

Knockout specialist 'Iron Mike' admitted using the powerful stimulant cocaine, smoking marijuana and filling his "whizzer" with someone else's urine to pass drug controls.

Should we be shocked? Heck, no because others have gone extraordinary lengths in their quest for glory and drugs have always gone hand-in-hand with sport.

Where there's massive financial rewards on offer, the glory of winning and the acclaimation, there will always be temptation to cheat.

Although the use of illegal drugs in sport is ignored by large swathes of the media and public - according to the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) football supplied the most positive tests in 2011 but you'd hardly know - you have only got to scratch just below the surface to find real cause for concern.

Not only did Tyson come clean this week but the controversy surrounding Jamaica's anti-doping programme has intensified after the country's most senior drug tester claimed recent positive tests could be the "tip of the iceberg".

Then there's the alarming surge in positive drugs tests among toplevel athletes in Kenya, acknowledged as the home of distance running. And Spanish tennis player Nuria Llagostera Vives was been banned for two years after testing positive for d-methamphetamine this summer. Her suspension follows those dished out to Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki.

England's Rugby Football Union banned five players last season for drugs offence while Wales has had its share in the past. So has rugby league.

In golf, Vijay Singh's lawyers accused the PGA Tour of showing preferential treatment in their antidoping controls and of covering up offences. The three-time Major winner is suing the Tour in the New York Supreme Court for the manner in which it handled his admission of using deer-antler spray last January, which contains IGF-1, a banned substance.

Golf doesn't use blood tests, which is the most effective way of catching cheats, and has often been depicted as being "lenient" in its anti-doping policy.

Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong has been engaged in a charm offensive, offering to help cycling put its dark past behind it. Despite a history of riders having used drugs to assist them almost since the very first race that was held, the number of positives tests among the elite forced its rulers into a corner and into leading the way in the fight to clean up sport.

by HOWELL It was the first to introduce a biological passport for competitors, a whereabouts programme where the stars have to state where they are going to be for a particular hour each day so they are available for dope testing and announcing plans for an independent doping disciplinary panel. To me that's the nub of the problem with rule-breaking being handled in-house by most sports federations.

Did those running cycling at the time seven-time winner Armstrong was dominating the Tour de France by using a cocktail of performance enhancers want to catch him? He was only apprehended and banned because of the diligence of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and former team-mates breaking the omerta, the code of silence which operates across sport. What would athletics chiefs do if, for example, Jamaican giant Usain Bolt - he's never failed a drugs test - was to produce a positive sample? During the build-up to the London Olympics, triple jumping legend Jonathan Edwards told me, in an interview conducted at Bridgend, such a scenario could irreparably damage track and field. Dr Paul Wright, the senior doping control officer with the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) has warned of possible deeper problems in the country's sport following positive tests.

Former 100 metre world record holder Asafa Powell, Olympic relay gold medallist Sherone Simpson plus three others failed tests.

Wright raised eye-brows when he said: "The problem is these people were tested positive in competition.

So if you fail an in-competition test you haven't only failed a drugs test, you have failed an IQ test."

Of course, the claims of whistleblowers are often knocked by those very people who should be taking the lead in the fight against doping - the power-brokers.

The head of the Jamaican Olympic Association, Mike Fennell, predictably dismissed Wright's claim, saying he was "being dramatic".

He added: "There's no evidence to suggest that it's the tip of the iceberg."

But, as Wright countered, unless there's unannounced out-of-competition blood testing, which tests for EPO, human growth hormone and everything else, the chances of catching the cheats is vastly reduced.

In other words lax controls, which is why Tyson escaped detection.

Although the use of illegal drugs in sport is ignored by large swathes of the media and public you have only got to scratch just below the surface to find real cause for concern - ANDY HOWELL


Former boxer Mike Tyson has admitted using cocaine and filling his 'whizzer' with someone else's urine to pass drug tests
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 17, 2013

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