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In the now infamous SG Nasi Lemak case, it had been revealed that there were more than 44,000 members in its Telegram group at its peak, with numerous obscene (including upskirt) photos and videos being circulated in the group. Similarly, another Telegram group known as Sammyboy Forum was found to have around 25,000 members sharing voyeuristic content. Meanwhile, outside the realm of Telegram, there has been an increase in voyeuristic cases involving university students.

But what exactly constitutes voyeurism? Briefly, voyeuristic crimes defined under section 377BB of the Singapore Penal Code are those where a person intentionally observes (with or without an equipment), records, or operates equipment to allow others to observe (1) another person doing a private act without their consent; or (2) another person’s genital region, breasts if B is female, or buttocks (whether exposed or covered) in circumstances where the genital region, breasts, buttocks or underwear would not otherwise be visible without their consent. Based on this definition, common voyeuristic crimes include (but are not limited to) “peeping Tom” incidents where perpetrators observe or record their victims in private settings (e.g. bathing, changing clothes, using the toilet etc), the taking of upskirt videos, and the taking of sexual videos without the victim’s consent, all either for the perpetrator’s own consumption or distribution to others.

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There is also a psychiatric definition for voyeurism. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (“DSM-V“) criteria, voyeurism is defined as “recurrent, intense and sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviours” involving “observing an unsuspecting person who is naked, disrobing or engaging in sexual activity with or without their consent”. Do note, however, that a psychiatric diagnosis of voyeurism does not necessarily negate the legal consequences of the crime(s) committed.

Contrary to beliefs that voyeurism is not traumatic compared to other crimes such as rape or molest due to the lack of physical contact, it should be noted that voyeurism can cause emotional and psychological distress to victims as well. These effects can be long-term and can include a wide range of symptoms such as a fear of others, depression, anxiety, flashbacks, emotional numbness and denial. As such, it is important for the recent uptick in voyeurism to be treated seriously. To this end, it is crucial to understand why people commit voyeuristic crimes in order to find effective methods of prevention. 

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Inside the Mind of Voyeurs

The stereotypical image that most people have of voyeurs – such as being unsuccessful at getting the attention of people they find attractive, or having strange thoughts or behaviours – does not necessarily reflect reality. In fact, people who have admitted to such tendencies tend to lead ‘normal’ lives, and their intelligence, education, and employment have been found to be on par with the general population. However, some differences have been found between voyeurs and the general population.

Voyeurs tend to have more psychological problems and comorbid psychiatric disorders than the general population. Psychological factors such as low self-esteem, the avoidance from problems within their life, and maladaptive coping methods have been identified in voyeurs. This means that psychological/behavioural treatment such as Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT; Gilbert, 2010), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT: Hayes, Stroshl & Wilson, 2012), aversive conditioning, masturbatory reconditioning, covert sensitisation, assertiveness training, restitution therapy, and talking therapy can be useful in such offenders. However, the prognosis of such methods would depend largely on the offender’s willingness and desire to change as well as other personality factors.

With regards to psychological treatment, theories relating to voyeurism include: the sexual deviation theory, the conditioning theory, Bio-Psycho-Social model, the Love Map theory, and the Courtship Disorder Theory. The sexual deviation theory by Hocken & Thorne 2012 suggests that a “deviant sexual interest” (voyeurism) could be a factor alongside other contributing factors such as relationships issues, low self-esteem and antisocial beliefs that could increase an individual’s risk for committing a sexual offence, where the offences are triggered by situational factors such as experiencing life problems or availability of stimuli. The conditioning theory by Law and Marshall (1990) suggests that sexual interests are learned in the same way as other people learn sexual behaviour, and that individuals learn to secure sexual reinforcement through undetected illegal behaviours if the routes to “normal” sexual behaviours have been disrupted. A third theory by Mann and Carter (2012) involves the application of the Bio- Psycho-Social model to explain sexual offending being linked to biological factors such as low levels of 5-HT in the brain (Grubin 2008), foetal development in the neuro-hormonal environment in the womb (Cantor, 2011), and childhood trauma resulting in neurological impairment (Cantor et al., 2006). The Love Map by Money (1986) suggests that a love map is formed as a child develops, and damage to it through abnormal factors such as traumatic, inappropriate or unhealthy sexual experiences can ultimately create ‘atypical’ Love Maps which includes paraphilic and also voyeuristic Love Maps. Lastly, the Courtship Disorder Theory by (Freund, 1998) suggests that individuals with voyeuristic tendencies have disorders regarding the “finding phase [of courtship] – locating and appraising a potential partner”. These theories can help in identifying how best to treat offenders, whether psychologically and/or pharmacologically.

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Meanwhile, under the Bio-Psycho-Social model, comorbid psychiatric disorders more commonly found among people who have committed sexual offenses include major depressive disorder (MDD), Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), substance use disorder, paraphilias, and intellectual disability (it should be noted that these are for sex crimes in general and not specifically to voyeurism). This may be related to the relationship between low levels of 5-HT (i.e. serotonin) with an increase in sexual behaviors (according to Grubun 2008 and Kafka 1997). It is known that lower levels of 5-HT can cause an inability to inhibit the compulsive behaviours found in some of the above-mentioned conditions, and low levels of 5-HT could also contribute to other conditions such as depression and anxiety (which is why serotonergic antidepressants such as SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, and MAOis could work in some of these psychiatric conditions). Furthermore, Abouesh and Clayton (1999) found that voyeurism has similar symptoms to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is another condition associated with low levels of 5-HT. As such, besides psychological methods to help prevent voyeurs from re-offending through psychological counseling, there have also been studies on the roles of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and fluvoxamine in the treatment of voyeurism which work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by serotonin transporters (SERTs) at the presynaptic axon terminal which would allow more serotonin molecules to remain at the synapses.

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Several studies have also found that voyeurs tend to be males and the victims tend to be females. This has been suggested by experts to be related to misogyny and the objectification of women, as observing and recording women in intimate settings gives men a sense of power and control. An illustration on how misogyny and voyeurism could be related lies in the fact that voyeurism (or molka) is rampant in South Korea, a country where misogyny is a serious concern. This misogyny is unfortunately carried over to cases of voyeurism as well – in 2018, a petition with over 40,000 signatures was signed and a protest was held to call the Korean presidential Blue House to force the police to investigate all molka allegations seriously. While a woman was swiftly arrested and paraded in the media after she was found to have secretly filmed and posted a video of a nude male model during a university drawing class, most of the thousands of voyeurism offenders (of which 98% were male) were only made to pay a modest fine or even let off scot-free. Although Singapore’s situation is not as severe as South Korea’s, misogyny is still an issue in Singapore. For example, an Ipsos survey in 2019 on gender equality and sexual harassment found that 45 per cent of Singaporeans agree that women who wear revealing clothes should not complain if men make comments about their appearance, with this opinion being held equally among both genders – a rather concerning view with respect to the objectification of women, considering that this is a reason why some people commit voyeuristic acts.

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Online platforms such as Telegram groups also further perpetuate this issue, such as by (1) giving voyeurs a feeling of power and control to be able to monitor women (which they consider as objects of desire) in the most intimate settings, thus enabling toxic masculinity; and (2) making voyeuristic content more appealing to members due to their seemingly passive role, which in turn normalizes and emboldens perpetrators to record more of such content. This seemingly passive involvement of voyeurism makes it more appealing compared to other sex crimes (such as exhibitionism) which have more active involvement, as revealed in a study by Thomas AG et al 2021. Yet, the involvement of recordings are “more intrusive on privacy than mere observation”, as stated in a court ruling in Canada, which could make such incidents even more traumatic to the victims. This could suggest that education on gender issues and consent (in both the areas of sex crimes and taking/sharing images or videos of others) could play a role in preventing cases of voyeurism in society.

Other tendencies observed more in voyeurs include: individuals having good relationships with their parents but the parents themselves having poor relationships between themselves (Gebhard et al 1965), with parents showing a lack of emotional expression, emotional distance, undemonstrativeness and lack of warmth (Rubins, 1969); coming from broken homes or being less likely to have sisters (Carnes 2001); higher incidence of separation from parents in childhood and sexual abuse before the age 18 (Långström and Seto 2006); and having higher rates of unusual fantasies, including bestiality and sadomasochism (Smith 1976). It has also been noted that problematic sexual behaviours often began in adolescence with more than 50% reporting voyeuristic desires before the age of 15 (Kaplan & Krueger, 1997; Mathis, 1972).

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Combating Voyeurism

Policy changes have been made to better protect victims of voyeurism. Previously, voyeuristic crimes were covered under Section 509 ‘Insulting the Modesty of a Woman’ of the Penal Code and Section 29 and 30 of the Films Act. However, the drawbacks of these provisions were that only obscene films in a person’s possession were considered, and victims were required to be women. These were changed with the addition of Section 377BB of the Penal Code with effect from 1 January 2020, which now covers the observation and/or recording (with any sort of equipment) of obscene contents, and is gender-neutral towards victims.

While there are many ways to reduce the incidence of voyeuristic crimes, one of the most important things is for victims to speak up and report the crimes to the police. This could deter future offenders from committing such crimes, raise awareness of voyeurism, and empower other victims to come forward. A well-known example would be that of Monica Baey, who spoke up about what had happened to her and brought to light the issue of voyeurism, the initially modest punishment to the offender, and the psychological effects she had experienced due to the incident. While an ideal situation would be for victims to speak up, under-reporting still occurs due to the fear of not being believed, according to the Ipsos 2019 gender equality and sexual harassment survey. This is further substantiated by the revelation that 41% of all Singaporeans agree or strongly agree that false accusations of sexual harassment are a bigger problem in our society than unreported acts of sexual harassment, despite global reports that the incidences of false reporting is around just 2%.

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In conclusion, while cases of voyeurism have been on the rise in recent years – perhaps due to technology being a contributing factor – awareness of it has also increased throughout the years. However, awareness alone is insufficient for prevention, and much more needs to be done to put a stop to cases of voyeurism. While promoting better understanding of its causes and legal and/or policy interventions by the government can help, society as a whole would need to play a part a well.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and solely belong to the author and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the NUS Criminal Justice Club or its affiliates.


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  • Cantor, J. M., Kuban, M. E., Blak, T., Klassen, P. E., Dickey, R., & Blanchard, R. (2006). Grade failure and special education placement in sexual offenders’ educational histories. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 743–751.
  • Carnes, P.J. (2001). Cybersex, Courtship and Escalating Arousal: Factors in Addictive Sexual Desire. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity 8: 1 45-78.
  • Duff S (2018). Voyeurism: A Case Study. Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018.
  • Dwyer, M. (1997). Intervention outcome study: Seventeen years after sexual offender intervention. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Intervention, 9, 149-160.
  • Freund, K. (1988). “Courtship disorder: Is the hypothesis valid?” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 528, 172–182.
  • Gebhard, P. H., Gagnon, J.H., Pomeroy, W. B., & Christenson, C. V. (1965). Sex Offenders. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Gilbert P, Procter S. (2005). Compassionate mind training for people with high shame and self-criticism: Overview and pilot study of a group therapy approach. Clinical Psychology Psychotherapy, 13:353–79.
  • Greenberg DM et al (1996). A Comparison of Treatment of Paraphilias with Three Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: A Retrospective Study. Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law, Vol. 24, No. 4.
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  • Hayes, S.C, Strosahl, K.D., & Wilson, K.G. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy: The process and practice of mindful change (2nd Ed). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Hocken, K & Thorne, K. (2012). Voyeurism, Exhibitionism and Other Non-Contact Sexual Offences. In B. Winder, B & P Banyard (Eds). A Psychologist’s Casebook of Crime: From Arson to Voyeurism. Houndsmill, UK: Palgrave Macmillin.
  • Ipsos (7 March 2019). Gender Equality, Sexual Harassment and the #MeToo movement in Singapore.
  • Kafka, M. P. (1991). Successful anti-depressant intervention of non paraphilic sexual addictions and paraphilias in men. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 52 (2) 60- 65.
  • Kafka, M. P. (1994). Sertraline pharmacotherapy for paraphilias and paraphilia- related disorders: An open trial. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 6, 189-195.
  • Kafka, M. P. (1997). A Monoamine Hypothesis for the Pathophysiology Of Paraphillic Disorders. Archives of Sexual Behaviour. 26. 343-358.
  • Kaplan, M.S. & Kreuger, R. B. (1997). Voyeurism: Psychopathology and theory. In D. R. Laws and W. O’Donohue (Eds.), Sexual deviance: Theory, Assessment and Intervention. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Mato Kotwani and Sashni Chevlam (21 December 2021). Changes to the Sentencing Framework for Voyeurism Offences in Singapore.
  • Laws, D.R & Marshall, W.L. (1990). A conditioning theory of the etiology and maintenance of deviant sexual preferences and behaviours. In W. L Marshall, D.R Laws, & H.E Barbaree (Eds). Handbook of sexual assault: Issues, theories and intervention of the offender (pp.209227). New York. Plenum Press
  • Lydia Lam (24 January 2022). Sammyboy Forum Telegram group member gets jail and fine, had more than 17,000 obscene videos.
  • Långström, N., & Seto, M. (2006). Exhibitionistic and Voyeuristic Behaviour in a Swedish National Population Survey. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 35, 427-435
  • Justin McCurry (3 July 2018). ‘A part of daily life’: South Korea confronts its voyeurism epidemic. The Guardian.
  • Mann, R.E. & Carter, A J. (2012). Some proposed organising principles for the treatment of sexual offending. In B. Wischka, W. Pecher & H. van der Boogaart (Eds)., Behandlung von Straftätern: Sozialtherapie, Maßregelvollzug, Sicherungsverwahrung [Offender treatment: Social Therapy, Special Forensic Hospitals, and Indeterminate Imprisonment]. Centaurus.
  • Money, J. (1986). Love Maps – Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transpostition in Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Prometheus Books.
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  • David Sun (9 March 2021). SG Nasi Lemak chat admin jailed and fined; had more than 11,000 obscene photos and videos. The Straits Times.
  • Kristen Thomason and Susie Dun (25 February 2019). Court ruling on voyeurism could have broad social impact.
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Author’s biography

Celine Cheow is a recent graduate from NUS Pharmacy. Besides toxicology, she is also interested in forensic psychology and psychiatry as well.



CJC-F Announcements, CJC-F Insights, CJC-F Understanding Forensics, CLD Forensics, Uncategorized

Doping, which refers to the illegal use of substances to enhance sporting performance, is a perennial concern in competitive sports. Interestingly, Singapore has had a number of doping cases over the years. For instance, in 2012, seven out of eight athletes tested positive for having consumed prohibited substances during the Singapore National Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship.

There are various substances that are abused by sportsmen, with some being more commonly used than others. To this end, the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) has promulgated the 2022 WADA Prohibited List, which contains ten categories of banned substances which may (1) be prohibited in-competition or at all times, and (2) be specified or unspecified. 


This article will elaborate on four types of commonly abused substances in sports, namely: 

  1. anabolic steroids; 
  2. supplements; 
  3. erythropoietins (“EPO”); 
  4. high growth hormone (“HGH”). 


1) Anabolic steroids 

Anabolic steroids and diuretics are the most commonly abused substances. So what exactly are they, and why do athletes consume them? 


Anabolic steroids are a special type of steroid that stimulates muscle growth, and they are typically consumed by athletes who need to quickly build muscle or speed up recovery from injuries. Examples of athletes who have been known to consume such steroids are professional body-builders and weightlifters. 


Anabolic steroids imitate the properties of naturally occurring hormones such as testosterone, given their similar chemical composition. This means that the steroid can activate the body’s testosterone receptors to induce similar or even stronger effects brought about by natural testosterone. One of the key effects testosterone has is to increase muscle mass and boost energy, making this substance an attractive one for athletes who need to build bodies faster in preparation for competitions. 


While one of the key reasons behind prohibiting the consumption of these substances is to ensure a level playing field for everyone in competitions, it is also imperative to understand the potential harm that consumption can bring to athletes. Regular consumption of anabolic steroids has been known to increase the risk of hypertension, hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia amongst the athletes who imbibe them. Athletes may also suffer from acne, alopecia and even blood clots which increases stroke risk. 


High testosterone levels, on the other hand, are linked to psychiatric complications like psychosis and mood disorders. This explains why doctors avoid prescribing steroids when a patient has psychiatric symptoms as the patient may develop even more severe conditions. One such condition is systemic lupus erythematosus, which is a disease that causes the immune system to attack the body’s tissues and results in tissue damage in the patient’s body.


2) Supplements

Some supplements are considered as prohibited substances under the 2022 WADA Prohibited List. The term “supplements” covers a broad category of products, including but not limited to sports foods (protein powders/drinks, energy bars, sports drinks, etc), medical supplements (vitamins, probiotics, minerals, etc), ergogenic substances (caffeine, creatinine, bicarbonate, beta-analine or nitrate), natural products (herbs, roots, etc), weight loss supplements and anabolic supplements.


Dietary supplements may also be prohibited substances – these include stimulants such as ephedrine, methylhexanamine, sibutramine (an appetite suppressant that was banned in Singapore since 2010 due to its effect of increasing risks of heart attacks) and 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). Some of these supplements may also contain other prohibited substances such as anabolic steroids and clenbuterol (a beta-2 agonist approved for asthma in some countries which also has anabolic and fat-burning properties at higher doses).


What is especially tricky about this particular class of prohibited substances is that athletes often consume these supplements not knowing that it is prohibited. In a report on elite university-level athletes, it was found that one third of the athletes had little to no knowledge of the supplement(s) that they were taking. Common reasons cited included the assumption of safety due to the wide availability of the supplements, as well as trust in the people who introduced such supplements to them (such as family members or their coaches). 


This was unfortunately what happened in a case involving a local para-athlete. Khairi Bin Ishak was tested positive for methandienone (an anabolic steroid) during a routine out-of-competition test. According to him, he had purchased a protein isolate product from a Facebook page of a Malaysia-based company, not knowing that it contained substances which were prohibited. However, his lack of knowledge is not a defence for having violated an anti-doping rule. This is because anti-doping rules are strict liability in nature, and they apply regardless of whether the doping occurred intentionally or unintentionally – as long as someone is found with prohibited substances and/or at least one prohibited substance is found in a supplement, it is a violation. Consequently, the positive result of methandienone alone led to Khairi Bin Ishak being disqualified from the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 


This case serves as a cautionary tale for athletes to be aware of the ingredients contained in their supplements. Manufacturers’ assurances may not be reliable, and athletes should always check their supplements with qualified professionals to ensure that they do not contain prohibited substances. Inadvertent doping can happen, so always err on the side of caution!


3) Erythropoietins

The third most commonly abused substance used by athletes is erythropoietins. EPOs are erythropoietin receptor agonists, which include darbepoetin and other EPO mimetic agents. EPOs allow more oxygen to be transported to muscle cells, thus helping athletes increase their endurance in competitive sports.


Synthetic EPO substances have structures that are different from natural EPOs produced in the body. Nevertheless, like endogenous EPO, they stimulate the production of red blood cells (“RBC”) in the bone marrow by stimulating erythroid progenitor cells, which in turn increases erythropoiesis (the production of RBCs) and ultimately regulates the concentration of RBC and haemoglobin in the blood through a negative feedback cycle. RBCs are responsible for the transport of oxygen throughout the body, so having a higher RBC count is useful as it can increase the athletes’ stamina. EPO also helps to maintain the RBCs and protects them from injury or being destroyed. 


However, abuse of EPO will have a negative effect on the body. Short-term effects include weight loss, insomnia, and headaches or dizziness, but there are long-term effects as well. This is because EPO increases RBC count, such that long-term use in healthy adults can increase the risk of stroke, heart attacks and blood clots in the lungs. In addition, EPO abuse may also increase blood pressure which may damage organs such as the heart and kidneys.  


The use of EPO by athletes is less common in Asian countries and is largely used only in endurance bearing sports such as cycling. The most well-known case of EPO doping is that of Lance Armstrong, who won six Tour De France competitions before being stripped of all his titles in 2012, after he admitted to using EPO to boost his performance. Interestingly, Lance Armstrong had never failed a single doping test in his entire career which led many to think that the anti-doping efforts by the International Olympic Committee are easily manipulated. 


4) Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone, as its name suggests, is a growth hormone that is associated with growth function. HGH is a peptide (small protein) hormone naturally produced by the pituitary gland, and is involved in many crucial physiological processes such as stimulating growth of bone and collagen, facilitating turnover of muscle and regulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism. 


It is not difficult to see how useful synthetic HGH can be when applied to treat growth disorders and deficiency-state diseases such as Turner syndrome, chronic renal insufficiency and short stature homeobox-containing gene (SHOX) deficiency. HGH is also highly efficient in increasing muscle mass and power and regulating metabolic (fat and carbohydrate) processes. In the context of doping, HGH is particularly attractive because of its efficiency, the absence of severe side effects if well-dosed and difficulty of detection. 

However, if not well-dosed, HGH may cause severe conditions such as nerve damage, swelling and high cholesterol levels. Diabetes and tumour risks also increase with HGH usage. Further, as HGH is administered via injection so as to prevent degradation by the gastrointestinal tract, there is a risk of cross-infection if syringes are non-sterile or contaminated, leading to conditions such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. 


What is interesting about HGH is the difficulty of detecting the substance. This is because these growth hormones typically have a very short half-life in blood and low concentration in urine. Furthermore, since synthetic HGH is nearly identical to HGH produced naturally by the human body, it is also difficult to differentiate the two. Successful detection of HGH can be achieved through blood tests. 


Like EPO, this substance is not commonly abused in Singapore or Asian countries. It is more commonly found to be abused in Western countries, where endurance sports such as cycling and running are more popular and prominent.



It is hoped that this article has helped to shed some light on the four most commonly abused substances in sports.

Elite level athletes must always keep in mind that doping is a strict liability offence, which means that ignorance cannot be pleaded as a defence should their sample be found with a banned substance. Thus, athletes should always stay informed about the list of banned or prohibited substances to ensure that they have not unwittingly breached the WADA Code, so as to prevent any unfortunate accidents which may lead to possible sanctions.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and solely belong to the author and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the NUS Criminal Justice Club or its affiliates.


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university athletes in Singapore. Singapore Medical Journal, 50(2):165-172.


Authors’ Biographies

Javan Seow is a 4th Year Undergraduate at the National University of Singapore. He is also currently doing his final year project with the NUS Forensic Science Laboratory. He aspires to join the Singapore Police Force after he graduates. 

Celine Cheow is a recent graduate from NUS Pharmacy. As a project manager of the forensic toxicology team in CJC-F in AY21/22, she guides the team with her knowledge of drugs, and edits articles relating to forensic toxicology. 

Wong Wai Xin is a 3rd Year Undergraduate from NUS Chemistry. She is interested in practical applications of Chemistry in everyday life, and aspires to join the Ministry of Education as a teacher after graduation. 

Zaher Wahab (“Zee”) is a Sophomore at the SUSS School of Law and is also a Doping Control Officer with Anti-Doping Singapore. He looks forward to practising Criminal Law & Sports Law when called to the Bar. Currently, Zee serves as President of the Singapore Chapter of the Asian Law Students Association and strives for greater interaction and collaboration among students from the 3 Law Schools. This is his second published article on Anti-Doping & Sports Law.

CJC-F Announcements, CJC-F Events, CJC-F News, CLD Forensics

After much anticipation, CJC-F held its first in-person Welcome Event on 19th September 2022. It was a very exciting time as both previous and new members alike were able to meet their club mates, get to know each other, and embark on this shared journey of exploring our interest in forensic science together.


CJC-F History, Goal and Project Hierarchy

The event began with a detailed explanation of the history and journey of CJC-F given by our student Director Alyssa Phua and Vice Director Ellione Chow.

It was truly spectacular to hear from them how CJC-F began as a single event under the umbrella of the Criminal Justice Club, and grew rapidly over the past 2 years to a well-established interest group with 39 published research articles and 4 highly publicized external events. Next, members discussed future goals of the club as well as contributions that members hope to make. The sharing provided all  members with an excellent understanding of the values, mission and goals of CJC-F.


Team Lead Sharing

After this, the team leads were invited to briefly introduce their teams as well as their plans in the upcoming academic year. It was an extremely engaging sharing session with all team leads doing their best to recruit members for their teams!

Ice-Breaker Bingo

Next up was a fun game of Ice-Breaker Bingo! Members were each given a bingo sheet and had to find people who had certain funny or silly experiences, items, or characteristics to sign off on the corresponding bingo boxes. These included having filmed a TikTok in public, being able to touch your tongue to your nose or having slept in Prof Stella’s class – which, for some reason, was a box that no one would sign! 😉

While the experience of 25 people frantically going around the room trying to obtain signatures was a chaotic one indeed, the ice-breaker was ultimately a resounding success, as members ended up getting to know one another better and on a deeper level.

Mass Game – Clue Finding

After the Ice-Breaker Bingo was a clue-finding mass game. A crime scenario was introduced (hypothetical, of course!). Then, members were divided into smaller teams and tasked with finding clue envelopes that were hidden on the 4th and 5th floors of the building in 20 minutes. Each of the envelopes contained either evidence, testimony, or action cards. Evidence and testimony cards could be used to reconstruct the crime, while action cards could be used to steal, exchange, or bomb other teams’ clues.

Once the rules were explained, an action-filled 20 minutes ensued, in which members put on their detective hats, ran around, and even accidentally got locked in a stairwell.

Once members gathered back in the room, they were given 10 minutes to discuss and come up with their interpretations of the crime as well as play any action cards obtained to gain more information. Every team was then given the chance to put forward their version of the crime.

The entire game was immensely entertaining and drew plenty of smiles and laughter. However, it also taught members the importance of evidence and the influence of available context on evidence. It was fascinating to watch the same pieces of evidence being interpreted differently based on the information available to the team.


Masterclass in Forensic Science and Legal Systems

Last up on the agenda was the long-awaited masterclasses in forensic science and the legal system. Zheng Yen Phua, who is currently a doctoral researcher working as a teaching assistant in the forensic science program at NUS, took the stage for the forensic science portion of the class. He led members through multiple topics that were integral to forensic science such as blood spatter analysis, DNA profiling through STRs (short tandem repeats), fingerprinting, and forensic medicine. The forensic science masterclass ended with the examination of the real-life Stirling Road Murder case and the demonstration of how forensic evidence was integral to the conviction of the killer.

Finally, the event was concluded with Alyssa presenting the final masterclass on a brief introduction to Singapore’s criminal legal system.

This sharing session was incredibly insightful for the non-law students in particular, who got a glimpse into the basics of the two legal traditions, the hierarchy of courts in Singapore’s legal system and the trial process. Alyssa also explained the difference in the standard of proof for the defense and prosecution in a criminal trial – a concept that the author found particularly thought-provoking – which is based on the premise of “innocent until proven guilty”.



In short, the entire event was a truly enjoyable and informative way to spend our Monday afternoon before the struggles of recess week!

*The views and opinions expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and solely belong to the author and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the NUS Criminal Justice Club or its affiliates.

Authors’ Biography

  • Avanti Balaji (Year 2 Psychology Major)

Avanti Balaji is a second-year NUS undergraduate current majoring in psychology. Given her deep interest in the roles and real-life applications of psychology, Avanti joined the CJC-F to gain more exposure and learn about the fields of law, forensics, and their relation to psychology. In pursuit of this interest, she also intends to minor in forensic science. She is currently part of the Forensic Science Conference planning committee as well as a member of the team focusing on forensic psychology.


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Olympian. World record holder. First male swimmer to earn Olympic and World Championship gold medals for every freestyle distance from 200 to 1500 metres and dubbed the “greatest freestyle swimmer of all time” by NBC Sports. These facts clearly point to an athlete of exemplary talent and tenacity; a true “shark” in the pool.

But who is he? He is none other than Sun Yang, the same Chinese athlete who was issued a reprimand in 2020 and sanctioned by the world swimming body, FINA, for (a) refusing to sign paperwork required in the doping control process and (b) refusing to submit samples of his blood as required by an Anti-Doping Organisation (ADO). But which anti-doping rules did Sun Yang violate? Isn’t doping about the consumption of prohibited substances to boost an athlete’s performance?

This article seeks to clarify:
  1. What anti-doping rules are;
  2. Who sets them;
  3. What constitutes doping in sports; and
  4. How urine and/or blood samples are collected by an ADO.

What are anti-doping rules and who set them?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is a foundation initiated by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1999 to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against the use of drugs in sports. In line with the purpose of an anti-doping programme – which is “to protect the athlete’s fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport and thus promote health, fairness and equality for athletes worldwide” – the WADA created the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), which is akin to a global rule-book for administering the anti-doping movement.

The WADC prescribes a set of punishments which applies to every athlete who flouts any of the 11 anti-doping rules or Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs), as they are known in the doping circles. Since WADA’s primary role is to develop, harmonise and coordinate anti-doping rules and policies across all sports and countries, this means that the same set of punishments apply to all atheletes worldwide. All recognised National Olympic Committees and International Federations under the IOC’s ambit are signatories to the WADC.
What constitutes doping?
ADRVs occur when an athlete or athlete support personnel (e.g. coach/trainer/team doctor) commits a doping offence when his/her urine or blood sample returns from the laboratory with an Adverse Analytical Finding. Should he/she be found guilty, there will be consequences or sanctions to that person.
There are 11 ADRVs in total.

It is important to note that the principle of strict liability applies to all anti-doping violations. This means that it is not necessary for the athlete to have intended to use the substance for him/her to be found guilty. Regardless of whether there was truly an intention to cheat or not, the athlete will be held responsible for any prohibited substance which is found in their body.

However, the degree of fault will be taken into account when determining the punishment the athlete will receive. An athlete may typically receive a period of ineligibility from competing as the punishment and the period of ineligibility could vary depending on the degree of fault. For instance, if the athlete is found to bear no fault or negligence, there could very well be no period of ineligibility for the athlete. If found to bear no significant fault or negligence, they could be rendered ineligible to compete for up to 2 years.
How are urine and/or blood samples collected by an ADO?
Every in-competition or out-of-competition testing begins with the provision of a urine and/or blood sample by the athlete. This is done under the strict supervision of a Doping Control Officer (DCO), who is of the same gender as the athlete.

During the process of testing, the athlete will urinate into the sample collection vessel right in front of the DCO so that the DCO has a clear view that the urine comes from the body of the athlete and not from any other source. The athlete will take the necessary steps to remove any clothing which may impede the line of sight of the DCO.

Similarly, for blood samples, the athlete typically rolls up his/her sleeves so that the instruments used will not be impeded. For this reason, DCOs work in pairs so that the other DCO (known as the Lead DCO or supervising officer) can act as witness to the entire process and record any anomalies in the process.

There is only 1 standard testing regime used to collect/analyse an athlete’s urine sample and the steps are as follows:
  1. Athlete selection – An athlete may be selected for testing at any time and place (e.g. whilst at home/ at the office/at his training venue or at the competition venue)
  2. Notification – A Doping Control Officer (DCO) will notify the athlete of his/her selection and reads them their rights and responsibilities. The DCO will then follow the athlete closely, to wherever he/she goes (warm down / medal ceremony / press conference / medical treatment etc).
  3. Reporting to Doping Control Room (DCR) – The athlete should report to the DCR as soon as he discharges his other responsibilities, as above.
  4. Sample collection equipment – The athlete will be given a minimum of 3 sealed sample collection vessels and kits to choose from. If he/she is unhappy with the chosen vessel or kit, he/she may request another to his/her satisfaction.
  5. Provision of sample – The athlete will then provide a urine sample under direct observation of a DCO of the same gender.
  6. Sample requirements – A minimum of 90ml of urine is required for urine samples. If the sample that is provided is not 90ml, the athlete may be asked to wait 1 hour before providing an additional sample. This additional sample will then be mixed with the earlier sample.
  7. The athlete will split the urine sample into Bottle A (minimum 60ml) and Bottle B (minimum 30ml).
  8. The athlete will then seal the bottles according to DCO’s instructions.
  9. The DCO will then measure the specific gravity of the sample to ensure that it is not too diluted to be analysed by the WADA accredited laboratory. The minimum is 1.005.
  10. The athlete will be asked to check and confirm that the information listed on the Doping Control Form is correct. This includes but not limited to his/her contact details, the medications / supplements / blood transfusion that he has had in the last 7 days.
  11. The urine samples will then be sent to WADA accredited laboratories for analysis.

If the athlete is found to have a prohibited substance in his sample, he/she will be invited to the testing laboratory where his/her sample from Bottle B will be opened in his/her presence and analysed. If the analysis from his/her Bottle B sample confirms the initial Adverse Analytical Finding (usually it does since it is from the same sample provided by the athlete on that particular day/time), the case will then be referred to the next stage, which is referred to as Results Management.

The athlete in question will then likely appear before a Disciplinary Hearing convened by the ADO and his/her National Sports Association (NSA). With possible assistance from his/her counsel, the athlete will now need to prove on a balance of probabilities that it is possible and plausible (i.e not a mere speculation) that there could have been an act of sabotage, manipulation, contamination, pollution or accidental use and that he/she did not knowingly commit the ADRV. The athlete has the option of choosing whether he/she would like to be legally represented.

Where possible, the athlete could list the possible source of the prohibited substance (e.g. adulterated meat) or even highlight any departure from the international standards that could possibly have contributed to the AAF.

Following which, the athlete may reach an agreement to conclude the case IF he proves his case successfully. There are 2 types of agreements – the results management agreement and the case resolution agreement:

If the athlete in question wishes to contest the charges, the case will proceed to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), as wase the case for Sun Yang.

What is CAS?  
CAS is an institution independent of any sports organisation which provides for services in order to facilitate the settlement of sports-related disputes through arbitration or mediation by means of procedural rules adapted to the specific needs of the sports world.

Created in 1984 and located in Lausanne, Switzerland, CAS has 300 arbitrators from 87 countries, chosen for their specialist knowledge in arbitration and sports law.

It should be noted that the award pronounced by CAS is final and binding on parties. It is enforced in accordance with the New York Convention which has more than 125 signatories.

What actually happened in Sun Yang’s case?
It started out like any other routine Out-Of-Competition Test (OOCT). Somewhere during the sample collection, Sun Yang noticed that one of the members of the Anti-Doping team was taking pictures of him. He immediately asked for the DCO’s Accreditation Card, to ascertain his identity but was rebuffed. This led Sun Yang to suspect that the testing personnel did not possess proper credentials and thus, his refusal to cooperate further. In anger, Sun Yang also smashed the vials containing samples of his blood which had been taken earlier.

As the test was authorised by the International Swimming body, FINA, a tribunal was convened to discuss the manner in which the sample collection had taken place. It concluded with the finding that “any blood sample collected without proper authorisation cannot be considered a sample and therefore, there was no anti-doping rule violated.”

However, WADA did not agree with FINA’s decision and appealed to CAS. A panel of three arbitrators then unanimously found Sun Yang guilty of refusing to cooperate with the DCO and of refusing to provide a sample. Following this, Sun Yang was issued an 8 year ban from swimming.

However, following accusations that Sun Yang’s testimony was lost in translation during the 2019 trial, CAS convened a new panel of arbitrators who then handed a 4 year 3 month ban to Sun Yang thereby ruling him out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and possibly ending his swimming career.

But… what happened to Joseph Schooling in August 2022?
On 30th August 2022, news broke that 2016 Olympic Gold medallist and national swimmer, Joseph Isaac Schooling confessed to smoking cannabis during an overseas training stint in preparation for the 31st South-East Asian Games.

Whilst there was a huge public uproar about Schooling’s smoking of cannabis in anti-drug Singapore, the question remains: did Joseph commit an ADRV?

The simple answer is no as there was no mention of any AAF from the SEA Games swimming competition. This means that Joseph was either not tested during the Games (the Games organisers have neither confirmed nor denied this) or he was tested and his test(s) came back negative.

Either way, this means that he was never caught with a prohibited substance (cannabis) in his urine during any in-competition testing conducted recently and thus, does not face any ban or sanction from competition. In fact, the news of his smoking of cannabis only broke because he made a confession to the Central Narcotics Bureau just before submitting to a random urine test under CNB’s watchful eyes. The test came back negative for all known prohibited drugs, including cannabis.                

Whilst this confession may be evidence of a breach of Article 2.2 of the WADA Code i.e. the “use” of a prohibited substance, it is only applicable if and only if there was evidence that the “use” occurred in-competition during the SEA Games.

One must bear in mind that cannabis is indeed a prohibited substance as per WADA’s prohibited list but only in-competition. This means that if Schooling had smoked cannabis a couple of days prior to any anti-doping test during the Games, his sample would have definitely been flagged as AAF as the single usage of cannabis can be detected up to 3 days after one’s last use. Therefore, it is this author’s firm belief that Schooling only smoked cannabis during the R & R period before his return to Singapore, after competing in the SEA Games.

His NSA, the Singapore Swimming Association and the Singapore National Olympic Council are expected to reprimand him for conduct unbecoming of an elite athlete and sports icon. But, to reiterate, it is highly unlikely that he will be facing a ban from competition since none of his urine samples from in-competition testing contained prohibited substances.

However, as Schooling is currently a conscript with the Singapore Armed Forces (“SAF”), he will be dealt with in accordance with Military Law. From recent news reports, we learn that Schooling will be subjected to 6 months of supervised urine tests and will no longer be allowed to take leave from his military duties to compete in overseas competitions.

Hence, whilst Schooling faces no immediate anti-doping bans from swimming competitions, it seems unlikely that Schooling will feature in 2023’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China and the 32nd SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia since the SAF ban will prevent him from taking leave from military duties to compete in future overseas competitions thereby pushing the pause button on his swimming career.

The anti-doping movement exists to keep sports on a level playing field for all athletes. Hence, the strict enforcement and the constant and regular testing of athletes in and out of competition keeps elite sports competitive but fair. Nevertheless, athletes should always be aware of their rights and responsibilities as elite athletes and be guided by the strict liability rule that governs the anti-doping movement for a small mis-step can spell the end of their sporting careers.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and solely belong to the author and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the NUS Criminal Justice Club or its affiliates.

Authors’ Biographies
Zaher Bin Wahab (“Zee”) is a Sophomore at the SUSS School of Law and also serves as a Doping Control Officer with Anti-Doping Singapore. He looks forward to practising Community Law (Criminal, Family and Sports Law) when called to the Bar. Concurrently, serves as President of the Asian Law Students Association S’pore (ALSA SG) and strives for greater interaction and collaboration between students from the 3 Law Schools in Singapore. This is his first published article.

Alyssa Phua is a fourth year NUS undergraduate pursuing her double degree in Law and Business. As a strong believer in the need to promote greater appreciation of forensic evidence, she founded CJC Forensics (CJC-F) in 2020. As the director of CJC-F, she directs, coordinates and oversees all activities, events and projects.

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What is Deception

Deception is commonly defined as the “act of encouraging people to believe information that is not true.” This falsehood generally misleads, hides the truth or promotes a belief concept or idea that is incorrect. Deception is often carried out due to personal gain or advantage over others. Some common examples of deception can include: lying, by stating something known to be untrue with the intent to deceive, omission, by hiding the truth to deceive, or having statements that misrepresent facts and exaggeration of content. With all these avenues where potential deception can occur, the next important question would be the importance of being able to detect deception. Having the skills to differentiate the false from facts is something integral in areas such as police investigations, court trials, border control interviews and intelligence interviews. 

What is interrogation

Alongside deception comes interrogation which is usually referred to as formal or repetitive questioning. This process of questioning is done by the police on someone who is arrested or suspected of a crime. Interrogation techniques are used to pinpoint the truth from details that the subject provides and how the subject reacts to the line of questioning. One of a well-known investigation technique is the Reid Investigation Technique, comprising of 9 steps: initial confrontation, theme development, handling details, overcoming objections, procurement of subject’s attention, handling the subject’s passive mood, presenting an alternative question, developing the details of admission and converting the verbal confession into a written or recorded document. Interrogation is a double-edged sword as, if done improperly, could lead to false confessions. Improper methods of interrogation include: engaging in behaviour that the courts have ruled to be objectionable such as threatening inevitable consequences, making a promise of leniency in return for the confession, denying the subject their rights and conducting an excessively long interrogation.

Theories involved

Fundamentally, telling and detecting truths and/or telling lies are psychologically different.There are both practical and theoretical ways used to detect lies. An example of a theoretical way to detect lies is cue theories. Cue theories is an overarching term which encapsulates and unify the general gist of ideas based on research and theories on deception detection. How truth and lies vary usually differ from theory to theory but some common examples include the emotional states felt when telling the truth and when lying, the amount of arousal in the autonomic nervous system, and the degree of cognitive load or effort naturally involved in message production. As lies require more effort to generate, and are more tiring when trying to maintain the temporal line of events in memory, cue theory states that a lying person will give off behavioural ‘cues’ that signal deception. It is also more difficult to make strategic efforts to appear honest, to conduct message planning and to pretend to have the willingness to be forthcoming. This is because lying creates greater cognitive load (Walczyk, 2013) imposed on the person lying in order to come up with the lie and to maintain the structural integrity of the lie, thus this allows for ways to catch someone and trap them in their lie.

Another common way to tell if someone is lying is to ask them to tell the story backwards or jump around the temporal order of events as liars constructing their own false stories will have a higher difficulty in retelling their story this way as it requires more cognitive processing of details and usually these details will be mixed up and confused when the order of the storytelling is jumbled. Furthermore, psychological states produced by deception are behaviorally signalled by specific observational cues such as non-verbal detection cues, observation of non-verbal behaviour and voice pitch where more highly pitched voices are used when people are lying. These cues are practical ways to detect lying, and help to mediate and explain the relationship between truths-lies and cues. However, the evidence points to divergent conclusions and challenges the validity of cue-based lie-detection (Levine, 2018). In fact, it was also found that when falsifying statements, speakers were less likely to produce the cues that listeners were looking for (Loy, n.d.).


Overall, lie detection has been an important tool to differentiate lies from facts in “police investigations, court trials, border control interviews and intelligence interviews”. Such high-risk points of context sieve out terrorists or people who aim to do harm by asking then standard questions such as what they are going to do, or what will they be using equipment for. Such questions may frighten criminals and cause them to say something suspicious through the slip of their tongue, leading to more suspicion by the security clearance personnel. The availability of such expertise in detecting deception also acts as deterrence towards criminals who are planning criminal activity. A seasoned criminal may know how to get past police interviews pretending to be innocent, yet get called back due to the suspicion of the police.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article do not constitute legal advice and solely belong to the author and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the NUS Criminal Justice Club or its affiliates.


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Loy, J. E., Rohde, H., & Corley, M. (n.d.). Cues to lying may be deceptive: Speaker and listener behaviour in an interactive game of deception. Journal of Cognition, 1(1), 42.

Orlando, James (2014) Interrogation techniques. OLR Research Report. Retrieved 13 April 2022, from 

A description of the reid technique | john e. Reid and associates, inc. (n.d.). Retrieved 13 April 2022, from

Levine, Timothy (2018) Scientific Evidence and Cue Theories in Deception Research: Reconciling Findings from Meta-Analyses and Primary Experiments. International Journal of Communication, 12, 2461-2479. Retrieved from