Doping in Sports

What behavior and performance do people expect from professional athletes? The answer is: intense trainings, dedication to sport and honesty. Regular spectators and TV viewers expect to see transparent results and fair competition. It is the quintessence of any sport, honesty and rivalry; remove it, and what’s left is not even worth spectator’s attention. Doping is an illegal way to enhance an athlete’s performance and achieve exemplary heights. It causes athletes to make less of an effort. The use of doping can reduce the quintessence of all sports.

Nowadays there is a serious problem of the doping in professional sports. This problem involves a list of questions, which are required to be answered: how to improve the doping control, which drugs should be banned, which measures should be taken for the athletes who have violated the rules. But what do we know about doping except for information that is presented by the mass media? When observing doping in modern sports, it is important to shatter the myths concerning the drug use and describe real facts.

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The main reasons that doping is a problem are lack of fairness to other competitors and possible health damages. And the best solution to the problem of doping is to toughen penalties and implement stricter control. Penalties can be: a fine, sanctions, ban from sport, and revocation of previous medals. It sounds cruel but it is the only way to stop distribution of doping and use of drugs. The second problem deals with reducing of doping production and encouraging athletes to perform honestly. A life-time ban would probably eliminate the use of doping, but as long as athletes are determined to win, nothing can stop them.

This decade is noteworthy for the number of athletes who have used pharmacological means as a panacea. Both beginners and highly skilled professionals try to push aside or fully replace purposeful and energetic trainings with pills and syringes with drugs. There is a search for a miracle drug that can allegedly, in the shortest term, boost performance to the record level. In fact, sport achievements for the last two decades have led physiological capability of the body to the threshold level (Leigh-Smith, 2003).

Many doctors and scientists have different points of view about the solution to the drug usage problem. Some believe that the athlete must have freedom of choice while being well informed about harmful effects of the medicines. Others consider the necessity of absolute prohibition of stimulants use and severe penalty of those who are guilty.

The history of world sport knows many incidents when athletes have been using different drugs with the help of coaches, doctors, and scientists. Athletes forget, that even if stimulators provide better physical shape, they also restrain physiological reactions that protect the organism from overexertion. There were over 30 lethal outcomes caused by doping in 1960’s (Schwartz, 2012).

According to the definition of the International Olympic Committee, doping is the injection of pharmacological preparations into the organism of athletes in different ways (with the help of syringes, pills, or inhalations) that artificially enhances working capacity and sport results (WADA, 2014). Besides, doping includes various manipulations of biological fluids for the same purpose. Doping is considered to be a pharmacological drug only if it is detected fully or partially in the body fluids such as blood or urine with the help of methods of great accuracy (WADA, 2014). There are five groups of doping:

  1. Stimulants (stimulants of the central nerve system, analgesics).
  2. Drugs (narcotic analgesics).
  3. Anabolic steroids and other hormonal agents.
  4. Beta-blockers.
  5. Diuretics (2014).

The methods of doping include blood doping and chemical, mechanic manipulations such as masking agents, addition of aromatics to the urine samples, substitution of samples. There are also some compounds that should be limited even if they are used for therapeutic purposes: alcohol (tinctures with ethyl alcohol), marijuana and preparations for local anesthesia (Schwartz, 2012).

Despite all the doping controls and prohibitions, nothing can prevent athletes from using these drugs. The majority of musclemen believe that it is impossible to achieve great results without doping usage. They spread such information to the beginners convincing them that doping is not only innocuous, but helps our body to cope with physical and psychic strains. The chemists have done their job “wonderfully well” and nowadays there are nearly 10 thousand of preparations. All of them have different effects on athletes. The stimulants of the nerve system can abruptly intensify mental activity, remove physical fatigue. After their usage athletes experience inertness, sleepiness, there may be a feeling of courage and cheerfulness. Despite all these effects, there are a lot of side effects. The usage of such drugs leads to sleep disturbance, anxiety and excessive excitability. It may cause heart attacks and increase blood pressure (Leigh-Smith, 2003).

Steroids can be injected intramuscularly or orally in the form of pills. They facilitate quick growth of muscular mass. Anabolic steroids improve circulation of the blood and increase blood supply to the muscles. Such effects are considered to be positive by the sportsmen. It shortens recreation time after traumas and difficult trainings. In addition to this, the duration of trainings is considerably increasing, allowing athletes to spend more time in gyms. They get more power, good mood, exercise tolerance, and desire to train and win. There is only one detail that changes everything: therapeutic dose will not provide necessary effects. Athletes usually increase dose in 10-20 times that causes complications (Leigh-Smith, 2003).

The thing is, doping is like narcotic that may cause habituation. If the athletes start using it, they will find it difficult to forgo their custom. Moreover, more than a half of all athletes try to cheat. Some of them manage to do that while the others are caught by the testers at the competitions. The best-known athletes were asked the following question: “Would you use performance-enhancing drugs to win if you would not be caught?” and only 2 percent answered “No” (Baron, 118). Among the sportsmen caught for doping cheating was Lance Armstrong. For a long time this cyclist was a hero in people’s eyes unless the blood test made in 2001 before the Tour de Suisse revealed a sign of drug usage. The athlete and his coach had a well thought-out plan. Armstrong made frequent donations to anti-doping campaigns and took part in a limited number of competitions. He oriented himself mainly on the victory in the Tour de France and therefore could avoid repetitive testing (Spiegel, 2013).

The list of famous dopers can be very long. Another notorious former Olympic star is Marion Jones. The female athlete won five medals at Summer Olympics in Sydney but she admitted that she had been using steroids called “the clear” before her preparations for the Games. Marion was deprived of all her medals and had one of the most shameful outings in sport history. A well-known baseball player Rafael Palmeiro had also been accused for the usage of steroids. Despite all the accusations, he continued to dismiss the fact of the usage of banned substances. Nevertheless, the bad fame of the athlete cannot be vanished and attracts the attention of mass media and all the fans who adored him (Zaldivar, 2013).

The news that shocked Canadians was the tarnished reputation of sprinter Ben Johnson who had used to run 100 m distances in 1980’s. The athlete set up a record during the Olympic Games but his glory was not long-term. Several days after the competitions he had a positive test for anabolics “stanazalol”. As a result, Johnson’s career was destroyed as he lost his gold medal, but far more important was the loss of Canadians’ belief in their hero (Zaldivar, 2013).

The facts show that there are many athletes who can not succumb to the temptation of drug-taking. The fear of penalties and fines will hardly stop them. The leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency informed that those who try to cheat will be excluded from the competitions for four years. Furthermore, it was emphasized that all the coaches, doctors and officials who promote doping, will be punished. The only way to reduce punishment is to give information about doping addict athletes or about those who assisted the drug trafficking. In fact, most of examples show that the end does not justify the means (Harris, 2013).

Performance-enhancing substances are not new at present. They had been used for millenniums by gladiators and soldiers during the wars to relieve pain and increase adrenalin. There is a great number of doping substances that are created in no time. In 2006 WADA issued a list of banned substances used in professional sports. They are anabolic steroids, hormones, diuretics, masking agents, stimulants, narcotics or gene doping (Nikolopoulos, 2010). A great challenge concerning the drug-testing is the lack of technical support. Moreover, it is very expensive to carry out the checkout in the laboratories. Many distinguished athletes abuse this fact and don’t miss the opportunity to become winners in different kinds of sport thanks to these magic pills. Being inspired with the astonishing records, they neglect the fact that it has a harmful effect on their health.

The usage of doping may cause serious health problems or even death. Some performance-enhancing drugs are taken as medicines and should be prescribed only by doctors. In spite of this, they are sold illegally to ill-informed people. Besides, the combination of different drugs or overdose may lead to lethal end. Doping creates a kind of addiction, so when athletes stop using them, they quickly lose their physical form and feel side effects.

Prohibited usage of substances may cause hormonal changes in athletes’ bodies. First of all, it leads to liver diseases and the risk of cardiovascular inefficiency. Second, the long-term usage of steroids has a negative influence on genital system. Drugs reduce the possibility of impregnation. Women, in its turn, have problems with mammary glands. Third, performance-enhancing substances may influence a psyche. A great concentration of testosterone in the body can cause aggressiveness, increased libido, euphoria, excitability, sleep disturbance, agitation, paranoia and hallucinations. Forth, the dose of drugs may lead to cosmetic defects such as acne, development of male features in female athletes, the hair growth on the body and face. Probably, the most dangerous thing is a great likelihood of oncologic diseases (Nikolopoulos, 2010).

The temptation to use banned doping and to get supernatural force or speed is extremely great but before doing that athletes should think if they want to risk their career, reputation and health.

Rebuttal

Every sportsman and sportswoman join sporting activities with a common goal of winning. The desire to win motivates all sportsmen to put efforts in training and show good results during matches. In addition, it stimulates many athletes to consume drugs that can empower them during competitions. As a result, it is not an easy task to compete against an athlete who has already been using doping for a long time. In fact, the use of drugs that boost the strength of athletes offers unhealthy competition in sports. Therefore, it is about time that all world’s sports federations should come up with a strategy of dealing with doping cases. In the past, rebuttal, which is, in this case, a method of disproving that one used doping by means of medical tests, has been the only strategy. Many sportsmen have been banned from participating in sports and others fined large sums of money if they could not prove they did not use doping. However, the strategy has not worked since the cases of consuming drugs have not stopped. Rebuttal, or disapproving of doping, has not been effective and has not stopped sportsmen from using drugs. Therefore, such practices still result to unfair competition, winning of the wrong people and fame that is concealed behind drugs. Medical experts have proved that doping has a negative medical impact on the life of human beings. However, instead of campaigning for rebuttal, it is time that the world took a different route and legalized doping. That way, all sportsmen will be equal in the field, hence preventing some competitors being better than the others. It will also promote quality play since no players will have advantage over the others. Legalization of doping will also promote sports and make them more exciting due to equality play in the field. People should have faith in modern medicine and allow athletes to have self-control when they have the freedom to choose whether to use steroids or not. Elimination of blood tests and rebuttal will also allow less harmful drugs that can serve as energy boosters.

Conclusion

To sum up, in sports, the most important thing is determination. It enables competitors to train and become honest and dedicated to sports. Equality in the field ensures that sportsmen acquire fare results and entertain spectators. However, it cannot happen if there is no transparency and fair competition. Doping has been used illegally to enhance the performance of sportsmen in different games. Various world’s sports federations have tried out different strategies to stop doping such as banning sportsmen from participating in any sport or fining those who are caught under the influence of steroids. Many do not consider the negative side effects of doping but only aim at winning. Doping brings about negative medical effects to the lives of sportsmen. A lifetime ban has been practiced to eliminate doping in sports. However, it has not given positive results. Although not all cases have been discovered, many athletes use energy boosters during contests. Doctors discourage athletes from using steroids, but due to lack of ample knowledge they ignore this advice and only focus on winning. For the reason, researchers and sportsmen are advocating legalization of doping in professional sporting. They argue that it will make spectators more excited and promote fair completion. In addition, it may be one of the best solutions since experts will come up with drugs that are less harmful to the health of those who consume them. The solution to the problem will be educating sportsmen on the possible side effects of doping and then give them the freedom of choice.

 

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