The use of performance enhancing drugs is a form of cheating that is quite widespread and common in today’s modern sports. Doping in sport refers to the use of prohibited substances that may give an athlete an artificially improvement in their natural ability over other competitors. The fundamental principals of fair play and sporting ethics are violated. Highly skilled athletes are not rewarded for hard work but instead those associated with banned substances are recognised for their achievements.
The BALCO scandal has highlighted the ever-existing problem in sport. Athletes, even at the highest level, succumb to need to use drugs to gain an edge physically and mentally. Like the events of BALCO, the issue of doping in sport is always ongoing and has implications in a number of areas including sports sponsorship deals, defamation of athletes, the competitive spirit of sport and the adverse health effects on the athletes.
Doping in sport will always raise concerns, as it is the integrity of the competitors being questioned. As long as the importance and rewards of athletic excellence becomes greater there is an irresistible urge for athletes to resort to drugs to gain an edge. There is a lot at stake. Amateur athletes have the opportunity to receive college scholarships and elite athletes can earn tens of millions of dollars and many more through prize money and commercial endorsements. The lure to success is great and the temptation to gain any advantage will increasingly linger.
The use of performance enhancing drugs and the practice of doping in sports will always be present in the sporting arena. Athletes look for every competitive advantage to reap the rewards of success at the top level both financially and in personal satisfaction2,8. There is therefore enormous pressure to train longer and harder and inevitably some will seek advantage through the use of performance enhancing drugs2.
WHAT IS DOPING
Doping is the deliberate intention of employing chemical substances believed to alter or affect an individual’s performance both physically and mentally4. It refers to the use of any prohibited substances that grants an athlete an unfair artificial advantage over fellow competitors5. As some athletes want sporting success at any cost, they forgo all ethical requirements of fair play in sports. Modern sports are overwhelmed with allegations and scandals that many athletes around the world resort to drugs to improve their performance9.
Doping has major implications in a number of areas. As mentioned, it clearly gives an unfair advantage to those who practice it over fellow athletes who have trained hard and are genuinely skilled26. This may affect the world records that are being set by athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, which may not be an accurate reflection of their natural ability. Certain drugs also carry the risk of side effects which may include death and life-long morbidity2,4. There have been incidences of athletes that have practiced doping that resulted in death. In the 1967 Tour de France cyclist Tommy Simpson collapsed and subsequently died during the ascent of the Mont Ventoux with two tubes of amphetamines found in the rear pocket of his racing jersey5. Erythropoietin (EPO) was also blamed for the deaths of about 20 European riders since 19875. It also affects sponsorship deals and contracts in sport as will be discussed later. To address this problem the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was set up. WADA is responsible for developing and implementing uniform anti-doping standards worldwide (with respect to lists of banned drugs and penalties for misusing them) 2. The WADA Code was adopted after consultation with governments, sporting bodes and national anti doping agencies in 2003 by all Olympic Committees, many nations and elite sports associations2,7.
HISTORY OF DOPING
The use of performance enhancing drugs to improve an athlete’s performance dates back to...