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Lie Detector Use In Sport

As an enthusiastic but not a very good CrossFitter and Cyclist, I feel very strongly about athletes that cheat in sport. Many will know the mechanics of “cycling” on and off performance enhancing drugs and as such many athletes are “clean” when they undergo the actual drug test. This is where more and more sports are beginning to use lie detector tests. This will either be because the event organiser wants that extra level of confirmation that they are running a clean event, or it’s often the athlete themselves that requests a lie detector test after someone accuses them of cheating and they want the chance to prove their innocence. After all, what you really want to know is: are you competing against someone who has timed their drug cycling to perfection and are therefore competing in an unfair field.

Lie Detector Use in Sport

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Demand For Polygraph Testing In Sports

"A lie detector test properly administered, I'm a proponent of that frankly, just personally. I wouldn't challenge a lie detector test, with good equipment, properly administered."

Tim Herman, Lawyer for Lance Armstrong 14th October 2012. Tweet

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Event Use & Credibility

Most recently, the admissibility of polygraph evidence was considered before CAS during the International Cycling Union and World Anti-doping Agency cases against Contador following a positive test for clenbuterol during a rest day on the 2010 Tour de France. Contador sought to voluntarily admit expert evidence on the results of a polygraph test in an attempt to prove that he had not ingested the substance intentionally.

Contador, of his own accord, underwent a polygraph examination, the results of which were analysed by Dr Louis Rovner, an experienced polygraph examiner who claimed accuracy levels of 95%. Dr Rovner’s analysis concluded that Contador was telling the truth when stating he did not undergo a transfusion in order to benefit from clenbuterol. Importantly, Dr Rovner’s conclusion was then verified by Dr John Palmatier, an independent polygraph credibility consultant.

Lie detection is regularly used in Deep Sea Fishing and Natural Body Building competitions. That said, there is no legal reason that any event organizer couldn’t ask (it would have to be included in the application) for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers to take a lie detector test. That way introducing a further level of credibility to your event.

Lie Detector Use In Sports


Prior to the polygraph test, you will be asked to sign an authorisation to release the interview and test results. The individual or individuals who take the lie detector tests are the only people that the test will be disclosed to. As a general rule, polygraph test results are confidential. Exceptions to confidentiality occur when the examiner is a “mandatory reporter” involving child, sexual or physical abuse and when the test is not conducted for a solicitor. Regulatory bodies may have access to tests and test information but are prohibited from disclosing confidential information.