I have a piece out in Nature today (free!) on the utility of anti-doping testing data. It turns out, you can't really use the available data to answer the most basic questions -- such as, how many athletes dope? or Are anti-doping programs effective?
That piece can be seen here.
Over at SportingIntelligence I have a companion piece with more background and data. I show some USADA testing data (above) and conclude:
The data show that the number of athletes sanctioned from 2001 to 2013 almost doubled, and from 2007 to 2013 just about tripled.Have a look at both pieces. I welcomed comments and critique.
Does this mean that doping incidence has doubled or tripled? That USADA’s testing program is twice or three times more effective? Unfortunately, we just can’t answer these questions.
The good news here is that just about everyone – athletes, anti-doping agencies, independent scholars – appears to have shared goals. Moving forward I am hopeful that the anti-doping agencies will help to better support researchers wanting to quantify the prevalence of doping and the effectiveness of anti-doping programs — no matter how uncomfortable the answers might be.