There have been a number of doping scandals throughout the recent history of sports. Lance Armstrong had his multiple Tour de France titles stripped from him because of doping. Baseball players have set records, but may stay out of the Hall of Fame because of doping. Amateur sports leagues are constantly on the lookout for athletes who are trying to gain a competitive edge.
Statistics About Doping in Sports
1. In 2010, 1.75% of all doping samples came back with an adverse finding when encompassing all sports around the world.
2. Since the 2004 Olympics, the amount of adverse findings has nearly doubled in the athletes that were tested.
3. On a global scale, it is weightlifting that has the biggest problems with doping. In 2010, 2.97% of tests showed adverse findings.
4. Numerous drugs are used to create the doping effect, including steroids, stimulants, human growth hormone, and even cannabis.
5. In the United Kingdom, rugby is the #1 sport for doping. Between rugby league and rugby union, 27 players have been banned, almost all due to a banned stimulant.
6. Cycling and boxing are with 0.2% of weightlifting for the most doping within their sport.
7. Many sports have seen improvements since 2004, especially cycling. Doping rates in cycling have been nearly cut by 50% in the last decade.
8. Gene UGT2B17 allows for testosterone and epitestosterone levels to be naturally low, even when doping occurs, so standard testing will not catch an athlete with this gene who is doping.
9. Two-thirds of the Asian population has Gene UGT2B17. Only 10% of Caucasians and 7% of Hispanics have it.
10. The percentage of positive tests in the world that contained anabolics within them: 50.6%.
11. Some localized Asian populations, especially on the Korean peninsula, may have upwards of an 80% group of athletes who cannot be tested for doping through T/E ratios.
12. Testing for athletic doping has been the most successful in Paris labs, which found nearly 2% of all samples tested were adverse, or positive.
13. In Tokyo lab testing, only 0.16% of the samples tested were positive for doping.
14. In Q2 2014, Canadian officials found three violations of doping in athletics out of over 1,100 tests conducted. Football, weightlifting, and kayaking were the sports of these three athletes.
15. The athletes who are tested the most in the world come from Kenya, accounting for almost 15% of all global doping tests conducted. The United States ranks third after Russia.
16. The year that steroids were banned by the International Olympic Committee: 1976.
17. The first athlete to be disqualified by an international doping association was an American, Ben Plucknett. He was a discus thrower.
18. The United States banned the use of anabolic steroids without a prescription in 1988.
19. Doping became an issue after the 1960 Olympics after a cycling for the Danish team collapsed and died after fracturing his skull. There were amphetamines in his system.
20. In 2004, the WADA removed caffeine from the list of banned substances.
21. If one athlete on an Olympic team is found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs, the entire team may be disqualified and forced to return any medals they may have won.
22. The percentage of high school students who say that their decision to use anabolics was influenced by professional athletes: 20%.
23. 50% said that professional athletes influenced their friends’ decisions to use anabolic steroids.
24. 10% of MLB players have requested exceptions to anti-doping rules because of ADD or ADHD that has been diagnosed.
25. More than 40 Chinese swimmers failed drug tests between 1990 and 2000. That was three times the amount of any other team during that time frame.
26. In a study of German athletes who were given anabolics in the 1970’s, 25% of them got some form of cancer. The risk of miscarriage or stillbirth was 32 times the normal population.
27. The entire 1968 Swedish Olympic pentathlon team had to return their bronze medals because one member of the team drank too much beer the night before.
28. There are 192 banned substances in total.
29. Martina Hingis was banned from tennis for 2 years because of a positive cocaine test, but her results were so low that she would have passed a US military drug test.
30. Since drug testing began for the Olympics in 1968 and through 2008, there were 127 positive drug tests.
31. Anabolic steroids can be authorized by a doctor in the case of delayed puberty, cancer, or AIDs.
32. Steroid users often take 10 to 100 times more than would be prescribed by a physician.
33. Outside of cancer, men who take steroids often find that they have shrinking of testicles, breast growth, hair loss, and infertility issues.
34. Many of the drugs that are used for doping advantages are addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms.
35. Blood doping as become a popular way to increase oxygen levels in the blood. Transfusions, hormone injections, and other forms of artificial stimulation are used to create an enhanced athletic ability.
The Spread of Doping in Sports
It isn’t just the professional players or the amateur athletes who are seeking Olympic glory on a global stage that are doping. Even paralympic athletes have numerous anti-doping violations every year. In 2013, for example, 10 paralympic athletes were found to be in violation of an anti-doping rule violation that caused a suspension. When people compete, they want to win. In order to win, many athletes are willing to do whatever it takes to get that edge they need.
Although doping can enhance strength and size, it does not always change reaction times or hand-eye coordination. You can hit the ball further, but you’ve still got to hit the ball. You can run faster, but you still must react to the starting signal. Many athletes look to doping as the one answer that will solve all of their problems, but it simply does not. Doping is just a tool that is used to enhance natural abilities and sometimes it does nothing at all.
As the statistics show, athletes are still doping today even though they know there is an enhanced vigilance against the practice. Some leagues are suspending players for more than 33% of the season on a first-time doping allegation. In the case of Alex Rodriguez, he received a suspension of more than a year for his activities. There will always be people who try to break the rules. That’s why there will also always be anti-doping agencies that check on the integrity of the sport.
History of Doping Among Athletes
Doping has probably been around in athletics since competitive sports were able to create stars, large paydays, and global fame. As one method of detection is developed, athletes simply move on to other forms of doping that are more difficult to be detected.
How will we stop doping? There’s only one way to do it. As a global society, we must come together and make it socially unacceptable to be doping in the first place. Right now, if someone is caught doping, they are typically given a slap on the wrist, a suspension from competition, and then that athlete makes their rounds and apologizes for their “mistake.” If an athlete knows about anti-doping rules and laws, yet still chooses to break them, is that truly a mistake that is being made?
There is some truth to the fact that doping doesn’t actually create the conditions for a victory. It simply creates conditions for an enhanced performance. If everyone is doping, then the playing filed is virtually even as it is. Why do we have such a focus on doping anyway? Why are so many athletes today that aren’t elite athletes taking drugs so they can enhance their performances through doping, including kids who are in high school?
It is about ethics and honesty. Like it or not, we all look up to these athletes as role models. Kids want to be like their favorite baseball player or footballer. They dress like them, copy their athletic moves, and they also copy their athletic choices. If an athlete that is on a national or global stage is found doping and there is no consequence, then the children that are being raised today will feel like they can do the same.
Honesty also comes through competition. When we watch a sporting event, we want to know that a fair outcome is going to be achieved. If some athletes are doping and others are not, then we view that as an unfair advantage. That’s why anti-doping efforts are emphasized and rule violators are punished severely for their choices. As technology continues to improve, however, doping is simply going to become more complicated. If testing measures don’t keep up, then there’s a good chance that many athletes will get away with find their competitive edge in this way.