By Manika Jain:
“The spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, the body and the mind. Doping is contrary to the spirit of sport, erodes public confidence and jeopardises the health and well-being of athletes.”Â -World Anti-Doping Agency
The use of performance enhancing drugs in sports is widely criticised and to stop its increasing use by sportspersons, various tests have been designed. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its national counterparts are working hard to keep up the morals of the sporting world and fairness for sportspersons, especially the ones who have a clean record.
Anabolic steroids are mostly associated with their use as performance enhancing drugs, except for the fact that there are a lot of other more harmful, enhancing and undetectable drugs in the market. Harmful effects of drugs range from temporary muscular cramps to severe kidney disorders to change in the genetic make-up.
Surprisingly, the use of performance enhancing drugs is not new in sporting world. It is a well-recognised fact that sports is a highly competitive field and to get an edge over fellow competitors, performance enhancing drugs were used even in ancient Greek Olympics where Spartan coaches fed their athletes special herb and mushroom concoctions during a period in which they were supposed to be consuming nothing but cheese and water. It was believed to render them oblivious to pain.
The use of such substances during sports did not receive world attention till the death of an athlete in the 19th century. The research for developing methods to test the presence of a drug achieved a major breakthrough in 1983 when newly developed technology for analyzing blood for the presence of banned substances was deployed at the Pan Am Games in Caracas, Venenzula.
Till then the idea of banning drug abuse was to safeguard athletes from health risks rather than maintaining the fairness of the game. However, today, doping is a major concern for the ethics of the game and the sportsperson. The major breakthrough came in 2003 with the Balco Scandal which exposed designer steroids that were manufactured to be undetectable by the existing methods. The recent confession of Lance Armstrong in an interview with Oprah has created ripples.
The problem with doping are manifold which are highlighted in cases like the 1976 Olympics team of woman swimmers who were victims of a mandatory doping programme, use of various new substances, the cost of testing , the methods of testing etc. However the worst is the resulting dishonour of the sportsperson which multiplies into dishonour for the sport and the country. Doping is criticised on a major scale but the misuse of technology and the creation of a counter technology poses a great challenge