Sporting and doping – the controversy and challenges

doping sports

Doping or better known in the sporting industry ‘enhancement products’ have become a norm in the sporting world; with many questioning the authenticity and fairness of the testing.

The most recent controversy had to be the banning of the entire Russian team from the Paralympics and the cloud of doubt that hovered over the ban of the Russian team from the Summer Olympics.

Doping has become a global issue in the sporting world with more and more athletes claiming to consume enhancement products either because of an injury or for fitness purposes. It has become a worldwide concern, which has often caused havoc in the sporting world.

This problem has been a topic of discussion for quite some time, and several measures have been taken by global sporting bodies such as World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to manage and ensure that all athletes participate in international sporting events on their merit without the ‘enhancement factor.’ But the burning question remains the same, “how can we get rid of it, for once and for all?”

Doping dates back as far as Ancient Greece, at the original Olympics (776BC-393BC). Where athletes would experiment with various herbal mixtures to better their performance; the strange concoctions included bizarre mixes such as wine potions, animal hearts, and testicles.

The motto even then promoted good sportsmanship, stating “The important thing in the games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing is not conquering, but fighting well.” As usual, it seems that someone did not get the memo!

You’d think they’d learn

A marathon runner, by the name of Thomas Hicks, almost killed himself, by using brandy mixed with strychnine to enhance his performance in 1904 Olympics.

Another controversy that caused much speculation was Maradona’s fall from grace! The football superstar booted out of the ’94 World Cup after reading positive for substance abuse. FIFA had listed the five banned substances in Maradona’s test such as ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, pseudoephedrine, non-pseudo-ephedrine and methylephedrine.

A member of FIFA’s executive committee Dr.Michel d’Hooghe had stated that Maradona must have taken a cocktail of drugs since the five identified substances not found in one medicine.

Other bigwigs stripped of their medals include Lance Armstrong, who lost and stripped of his Tour de France victories in 2012. Although he miraculously recovered from testicular cancer, people only remember him for his doping allegations, even though he has continually denied all claims.


Another great example is sprinter Justin Gatlin, who was banned from international competition for two years due to failing a drug test. A substance called amphetamine was found in his body, even though he denied all claims of any drug use and claimed this was due medication, he had been taking since childhood as a cure for his ADHD.

His coach came to his defense and claimed that it was his massage therapist who was responsible for Gatlin’s condition because he had massaged with testosterone on his buttocks, which his therapist denied.

Are Drug Tests Accurate?

Drug tests don’t always show the accurate results, and with technology working for and against testing it is getting harder to be accurate, as each drug has its uniqueness and require a different test. There is not one, uniform test that can identify all the different sorts of drugs. Guess this proves the saying, ‘what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander.’

However, in recent times authorities have been able to partially solve the problem by saving the blood samples of the athletes, thereby enabling them to conduct drug tests on the blood sample as and when new drugs as they are introduced.

With so many unfortunate incidents you’d think athletes would be put off doping, but as they say, the end seems very far away. What is even more frightening is that youngsters idolize their sporting heroes. They have an active interest in their lives both on and off the sporting arena and tend to copy everything their idols do.

All these drug-related scandals have an adverse impact on the youth because they have peer pressure and tend to duplicate the actions by their heroes.

One way to prevent this is by teaching them about the dangers of this performance enhancing drugs. Explaining the health hazards and also mentioning how it will destroy not only their physical and mental health but also their career and reputation.

Physical education classes should also preach about core values and integrity. They should also be warned about penalties, punishments, and even lifetime ban if there is any form of dishonesty and substance abuse involved.

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