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Doping – the dark side of sport

Antonia Muenchenbach, Healthy Living writer

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Many athletes dream about participating in the Olympic Games. But sometimes their bodies fail to live up to demanding athletic standards and they choose to risk taking steroids, which helps muscle growth. But this is considered doping and if athletic authority find out that doping is happening, the result can be the disqualification of the athlete. But why do athletes dope and what happens when somebody finds out?

To clarify, according to Wikipedia doping refers to “the use of banned athletic performance-enhancing drugs by athletic competitors”. Usually, athletes dope with modified hormone testosterone. This helps the muscles to grow and it reduces muscle damage. This hormone also increases aggressive performance in competition. While there are perceived benefits to taking such hormones, they can cause serious health problems. For men, the hormone can cause infertility or prominent breasts. Another result can be shrunken testicles or impotence. For women, the hormone can cause a deepening voice and an increase of body hair. Both genders can have problems with acne, a higher risk of cancer and heart problems. These hormones can ruin your body.

The most used drug is anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) and was for many years the most detected doping substance in IOC (International Olympic Committee) laboratories. But doping is not something new. The use of performance- enhancing tactics (PED) in sports has been a part of the Olympics since the first games in Ancient Greece. In Greece they gave the athletics so-called “magic potions” which could help the athletes to perform better.

At the summer Olympics in 1967, the first modern doping event happened. Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall had two beers to “calm his nerves” before the pistol shooting. He was a Swedish modern pentathlete and the misdemeanor caused the disqualification of the whole Swedish team.

In 1999, the IOC formed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is now responsible for all doping testing for the Olympic Games. The sport with the most doping incidents is weightlifting, with 36 cases from 1968 to 2010. In total WADA found 127 doping cases between 1968 and 2010. The country with the most athletes who practiced doping is Austria with 10 cases, followed by Russia and Greece each with 9 cases (1968-2010).

A big doping scandal happened last year at the Olympic games in Rio. Lots of Russian athletes were banned especially in field events and weightlifting. A partial ban affected athletes at aquatics, canoeing, cycling, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing and wrestling. The Russian state doped their athletes systematically the last few years and this was the consequence.

But why do athletes take drugs? There are three main reasons.

The first is for medical treatment. Drug use in this case is not forbidden, but there is a list from WADA which says which drugs you can take and which not. But if the athlete requires this one “forbidden” drug for valid medical reasons, then they can take this drug, if WADA agrees.

Second, athletes take drugs like caffeine or illegal drugs like cocaine. In this case, the drug use is recreational rather than sports-related in nature.

Third, as already outlined drugs are used to enhance performance. The athletes are always under pressure to be the best. Sometimes they realize their bodies can’t perform the way they want except by using steroids. This is forbidden, but many athletes take this risk to perform better.

I, personally, understand why people take steroids because they are really unhappy with their achievement. But the long-term disadvantages and risks of steroids are too high and endanger the body and eclipse fair competition.

 

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Doping – the dark side of sport