Doping In Sports

Use of soothing drugs and relaxing drops are more often linked with the addicts looking for what they prefer to describe as transitory mental-biological state of mind that is different from the real world. Use of drugs in sports is entirely for different purposes, it is another thing that in some cases even one time affair may turn into a habit. The over ambitious and aspiring sports person competing in the cut throat competition at various national or global sports events have been reported to have opted for doping in order to enhance their capacity to win the race not genuinely but by extra-constitutional means. Therefore, use of drugs in sports may be rewarding but at the same time it is as good as cheating and not only unethical but also illegal. The use of drugs is not only very common but also not a new development.

It is believed that intake of stimulants with the aim of improving performance in sports is probably as old as the events themselves. Whether it is a fact or a mere myth is not known but it is said that competitors in the ancient Greco-Roman games were known to eat animals’ parts which they thought would give them the strength of bulls. The Greeks were also aware of using plants and mushrooms to help performance or accelerate the healing process. So far as the Olympic Games are concerned, the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) has had a long history. Its origins can be traced back to the Ancient Olympics where Olympians were said to consume a special preparation of lizard meat with the hope that it would give them an additional advantage.

However, the first widely known and documented use of drugs to improve an athlete’s performance was the winner of the 1904 marathon, Thomas Hicks who was injected with strychnine. The use of performance-enhancing medication leading to death during Olympic competition refers to the Rome Games of 1960 where during the cycling road race, Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen fell from his bicycle and later died. As news of rampant drug use by athletes began to spread, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to act. Thus in 1967, the IOC banned the use of performance enhancing drugs in Olympic competition. It introduced the first drug use controls at the 1968 Winter Olympics. The authoritative body on the use of performance-enhancing drugs is the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which came into operation in1999. This organization is supposed to oversee the testing of athletes for several sports federations and the Olympic Games. The cat and mouse game between drug manufacturing companies and their customers on the one and WADA goes on. As these companies continue to improve their quality, WADA innovates new ways to detect these drugs. In 1988, Ben Johnson, a Canadian athlete was stripped of his 100m gold at the Seoul Olympics for failing a drugs test.

And recently at home, the Indian Olympic bronze medalist boxer Vijender Singh, who has been accused of consuming drugs, has reportedly been dropped from the India squad which is to tour Cyprus and Cuba. It may be recalled Vijender’s name cropped up in the scandal when Punjab Police exposed a drug haul case and took his sparring partner Ram Singh in police custody for interrogation. Ram is believed to have accepted that he and Vijender consumed heroin many times. Vijender has already submitted blood and urine samples to the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for testing. However, the samples may not ascertain if the boxer took the drug as it does not last for more than 12 hours in blood and three days in urine. Only a hair sample can efficiently conclude whether he took it or not. Drug traces can be found in hair for up to three months. Surprisingly, NADA denies that they have the hair testing facility.

This is not probably the first time that an Indian sport person is in the news owing to his association with drugs. At the time of Commonwealth Games 2010, eight athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing steroids when checked by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). Of them, six were 400-metre runners – Sini Jose, Ashwini Akkunji, Mandeep Kaur, Juana Murmu, Tiana Mary Thomas and Priyanka Pawar. They were being coached by the Ukranian Yuriy Ogorodonik. It may be recalled how Ogorodonik was sacked by the Union Sports Ministry soon after the dope tests. Following that he left the country. A number of performance-enhancing drugs are banned by sports’ governing bodies. In the categories of banned drugs there are 5 ‘doping classes’, which are placed below in tabular form. (See Table 1)

However, unlike the doping drugs or the performance enhancing drugs , social drugs are mostly taken to help people relax, or to put them at ease. In many sports some of them are banned and are also illegal. The main social drugs, their sources and drugs are mentioned in the table given below. (See Table 2)

By P C Singh

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