Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports EPIX Original Documentary Sports Techie Blog Chat
Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports is an EPIX Original Documentary that seeks to uncover the dark reality of banned substance testing. The Sports Techie blog chatted with Doped Director, Andrew J. Muscato, about this topic, the agencies involved and the technological advancements that are available to test professional and amateur athletes that are not always used because of excuses such as testing costs and inexact science for billion dollar generating global sports leagues, federations and associations. I would like to see the day when sports technology helps to level the playing field for all but after discussing the issues of doping with Muscato, it is just scratching the surface and often misrepresented. The EPIX world premiere on television is September 30 at 8PM ET/PT 7C.
Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports
Premium TV network EPIX® has another revealing documentary ready to expose the world of doping in terms of the implementation and the ineffectiveness of anti-doping policies in sports. The one-hour Original Documentary Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports, seeks to deliver a side of performance enhancing drugs that most fans of sport may not be aware of yet. Starting with a critical look at the history of anti-doping policies in pro sports, it utilizes interviews, archival and verite footage. The film does a deep dive investigation into the stories of athletes, professional and amateur, who have surrendered their rights and lost promising careers all in the name of a system that does not work.
The documentary features the inspiring first-hand accounts of athletes who claim their professional careers have been unfairly impacted by ineffective drug testing or intrusive testing protocols. Interviewed are record-setting 2015 World Championship bronze medalist and 2016 United States Olympic sprint sensation Tori Bowie, track coach Philippe DeRosier, former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi and shot put champion Adam Nelson, who claimed his rightfully-earned 2004 Olympics gold medal after a retroactive testing of his Ukrainian competitor confirmed the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports – Paulie Malignaggi I EPIX
“EPIX strives to present relevant and thought-provoking programming that not only entertains but also informs,” said Mark S. Greenberg, EPIX President and CEO. “The topic of doping is a hot-button issue that continues to spark pointed conversation throughout the sports universe. This documentary offers a compelling look at the efforts to create fairness in testing, while shedding light on the surprising personal stories of everyday athletes.”
Produced and directed by Muscato (“Schooled: The Price of College Sports,” Checkmates), executive produced by Bobby Valentine (former MLB Manager, current athletic director of Sacred Heart University) and narrated by Nick Kroll (“Kroll Show,” “The League”), the conflicts at the USADA to the ongoing anti-doping challenges, both Olympic and professional sports faces are examined through the eyes of elite athletes.
Conversations are conducted with current and former representatives of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) as well as Victor Conte (former BALCO CEO), Armond Armstead (former USC Football player), David Epstein (bestselling author, The Sports Gene), David Howman (WADA Director General), Dick Pound (former WADA President), DeMaurice Smith (Executive Director, NFL Players Association), Renee Anne Shirley (former Executive Director, Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission), ESPN’s T.J. Quinn, Vice’s Patrick Hruby, noted boxing writer Thomas Hauser and many others.
“The policies used in sports for the war on performance enhancing drugs overreach and underperform,” said Muscato. “Amazingly clean athletes are not only being harmed by these rules, but they have no say in how to improve what’s clearly a broken system. In order for a global gold standard to truly work, athletes should be a bigger part of the process and that is how we can get to a better and more amicable solution for all. This is a big issue we discuss in the film.”
Join the social conversation about Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports on Twitter with hashtag #Doped or visit http://www.epix.com/doped-the-dirty-side-of-sports.
Sports Techie, Muscato wants to share a different side of sports and show whether technology, drug testing and anti-doping policies really work, something many fans are not familiar with. WADA and the USADA are at the heart of this.
Doped: The Dirty Side of Sports presents the many controversies and conflicts surrounding anti-doping policies and implementation along with archival and vérité footage that tell the story of a system that has trouble catching the cheaters. The film also reveals more about what the MLB Commissioner did and did not know about the steroid scandal in baseball through the first-ever public interview with former MLB investigator Ed Dominguez. He has never spoken on camera but gave Doped an honest account of his experiences with the MLB department of investigations. It was obvious to him that baseball had baseball business ahead of baseball as a clean sport priority. The overall MLB operations was not as expected by Dominguez in the Mitchell Report.
By now you probably are aware of the Major League Baseball steroid era involving All-Star players such as retired Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemons, as well as current New York Yankees star, Alex Rodriguez, someone I saw play as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners inside the cozy Kingdome. A-Rod simply knew how to keep his testosterone levels below testing thresholds and according to Muscato, was given permission by MLB during the 2007 or 2008 season to use testosterone. ARod was banned from baseball in 2014 for the entire 162-game MLB season as a result of the investigation into his use of testosterone and humane growth hormone, a major league record punishment.
Lance Armstrong may be the most famous doping athlete and Tour de France cycling champion to be busted for the use of EPO discussed in public for the first time with Oprah.
Take Adam Nelson, he is an example of the victims of doping. Eight years after the 2004 Summer Olympic Athens Games, he was finally awarded a gold medal after the former winner tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Then there is the self-proclaims best fighter of all-time, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who according to SB Nation, used an illegal injection of vitamins before his boxing match with Manny Pacquiao, something the USADA disputes because Money was granted a therapeutic use exemption.
Muscato has become a critic of the current anti-doping system. He feels it needs to be improved and be as reliable as possible, something current testing, tech and science often does not accomplish. He said, “Organizations are not testing with technology at their disposal.” Muscato added, “more could be done, that is what we are looking at for a clean sport.”
The use of Torado as a pain medications by Armond Armstead, a former defensive end for USC and the New England Patriots, may have led to a heart attack as a college football playing junior and when he returned to play it was with heart issues.
The NFL and other sports leagues also use the therapeutic use exemption for Adderall.
UFC Champion MMA fighter, Jon Jones, tested positive for cocaine and was stripped of his title. The use of marijuana and the resulting THC levels is another illegal drug in sports yet five U.S. states have made it legal to use and that number is fast-growing because of the tax revenue. Does smoking a joint help a NFL player deal with weekly pain issues and concussion symptoms. Science has not determined the answer but many players in the NFL and NBA are users that know how to beat the tests given at a schedule time and day thanks to collective bargain agreements.
Test enforcement has an expense and Muscato cited the Dope clip about the country of Jamaica as one where money was never really an issue. Leagues that bring in billions in TV, ticketing and sponsorship revenue and most countries can afford to send athletes to worldwide events and need to stop using money as an excuse for the lack of modern testing technologies, labs and personnel. I discussed the New York Giants owner as a similar sports tech example with regards to enhanced instant replay technology for the 2015 season. John Mara said it was too expensive, c’mon man. These are the same kind of excuse used by rogue countries like China and Russia that actually use government agencies to test and self-report, or not.
Muscato also feels the very nature of independent testing agencies is ripe with corruption and mistake possibilities. One scene that did not make the documentary final cut involved WNBA star and former UConn player, Diana Taurasi. She tested positive for modafinil and because she could afford it, she used her own money to contest the case claiming her innocence of drug use. It turned out the lab screwed up the test and the outcome was wrong. The Turkish lab had their accreditation removed.
The drug testing future might involve biological markers and accompanying lifelong passport entries to investigate doping. Muscato is certain there are no silver bullet methods yet. Most often we are dealing with circumstantial evidence. We discussed the future of sports and whether new leagues and events are on the horizon that allow the use of performance-enhancing drugs. He felt this was not probable, it was a biological test gone wrong. Some people’s bodies react different to these drugs as is probably the case with Armstrong and EPO since other cyclists used it at the same yet did not win it all like Lance.
What he would like to see is athletes telling agencies, NGB’s and pro leagues what they should test for as well as more stringent accountability for an athletes whereabouts 100 percent of time as is now done in many Olympic sports.
The benefits of doping are certainly real but the dark side is often the face sports does not want front and center. Clean sport has a long ways to go and technology certainly will play an important role in fixing the problems.
Remember that next time you swim against an Olympic Chinese swimmer, play ball against professional American athletes or as FIFA and out-going President Sepp Blatter claims, “have zero positive drug tests in the past twenty years of the World Cup,” according to Muscato.
THE EPIX ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY DOPED: THE DIRTY SIDE OF SPORTS UNMASKS THE DARK REALITY OF BANNED SUBSTANCE TESTING.
The World Television Premiere Airs Wednesday, September 30 at 8PM ET/PT, 7C.
See y’all later in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world.
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