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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 37-38

Doping in sports

Sports Injury Centre, VMMC & SJH, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission30-Aug-2022
Date of Acceptance06-Sep-2022
Date of Web Publication19-Oct-2022

Correspondence Address:
Rajendra Kumar Arya
Sports Injury Centre, VMMC & SJH, New Delhi 110029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jbjd.jbjd_20_22

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How to cite this article:
Arya RK. Doping in sports. J Bone Joint Dis 2022;37:37-8

How to cite this URL:
Arya RK. Doping in sports. J Bone Joint Dis [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Nov 29];37:37-8. Available from: http://www.jbjd.in/text.asp?2022/37/2/37/358798

Doping is the use of prohibited substances and/or methods used for performance enhancement.

Doping in sports is gradually becoming sensational news in India also. India’s star sprinter S Dhanalakshmi and long jumper Aishwarya Babu, Aneesh Kumar, para discus thrower, and Geeta, para powerlifter, have also failed the dope test ahead of Commonwealth Games in Birmingham recently. There are examples from the past also. Ben Johnson, in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Canadian 100 m sprinter, smashed his own world record with a time of 9.79 s, the fastest man alive. Within 24 h, a postcompetition urine sample tested positive for anabolic steroids; within 3 days, he was stripped of his gold medal. Lance Armstrong admitted that his doping, his use of erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone, began in the mid 90’s and boosted his performance throughout his seven Tour de France victories in a sport riddled with doping.

This problem was less prevalent in the past or it is possible that it went unrecognized due to less surveillance or less strictness imposed by national and international agencies, i.e., World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). According to Olivier et al..[1] the prevalence of doping in elite sports is likely to be between 14% and 39%, although this figure can differ widely in various subgroups of athletes.

By definition given by WADA,[2] doping is defined as an occurrence of one or more of antidoping rule violations.

  1. Testing positive for a substance that is prohibited or in the prohibited list

  2. Using or trying to use banned substance, this includes athlete biological passport cases

  3. Hiding from doping control officer, refusing to take test, not going to doping control station, and not giving complete sample

  4. Athlete not being where they say they will be or missing the test during their 60 min time slot, not submitting, incomplete or wrong information. It is potential antidoping rule violation (ADRV) if there are 3 whereabouts failure in 12 months period

  5. Interfering with testing or doping control processes included during the prosecution of case

  6. Having banned substances or method in your possession without an therapeutic use exemption or justifiable reason

  7. Handling, transporting, selling, or attempting to sell banned substances

  8. Giving or trying to give a banned substance to an athlete

  9. Helping someone to dope or helping someone to cover up doping

  10. Working with or seeking help/services from someone who is serving a period of ineligibility

  11. Actions that frighting someone from reporting suspected doping or acts of revenge against those who have reported.

The principle of strict liabilities is of athlete himself/herself. They are ultimately responsible for any banned substance that goes into their bodies. There are three types of doping described:

  1. Chemical doping: chemical substances and adopting of methods that enhance the performance of sports persons to avoid fatigue and to enable the body to reach the utmost limits

  2. Blood doping: blood doping is a form of doping in which the number of red blood cells in the bloodstream is boosted in order to enhance athletic performance

  3. Gene doping: gene doping is the use of substances or techniques to manipulate cells or genes in order to improve athletic performance.

Most commonly used drug is androgenic anabolic steroids, which mimic the effects of the male hormone testosterone and are designed to increase muscle mass, help sports players train harder and for longer, and reduce recovery time.

Others are human growth hormone normally produced by the pituitary gland, which speeds muscle development, reduces body fat, and strengthens muscles. Erythropoietin (EPO) increasing red blood cells can dramatically improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity and delay fatigue. It also improves metabolism and muscle recovery. Stimulants are substances that elevate physiological and nervous action in the body. It is being used to increase the alertness and boost general performance, i.e., adrenaline, amphetamine, and cocaine. Diuretics or masking agents can result in rapid weight loss as your water stores are depleted. They are most commonly used by sports people needing to reach a certain weight class, for example, jockeys and boxers.

WADA publishes the Single List World Wide of these prohibited substance or methods and it is revised every year. This includes:

Prohibited at all times: substances and methods with a potential to enhance performance in future competitions or have masking potential

Prohibited in-competition only: substances considered having a relative short-lived effect, useful during/around competition time

Prohibited in particular sports: substances only useful for doping in very few sports and would negatively affect performance in all others (e.g., beta-blockers).

Who does dope testing: antidoping laboratories duly accredited by WADA. The task of the antidoping laboratory is to engage in drug of abuse testing in athletes employing sophisticated analytical technologies.

Intent of dope testing: The intent is to eliminate any competitive advantage that might result from ergogenic aids, protecting other athletes from injury by drug-abusing athletes, and fair competition.

Two types of dope samples are taken: urine and blood.

Currently, NADA.[3] have more than 100 trained dope control officers for dope sample collection, mostly located around important sports centers across India. Athlete can be selected for doping control anytime, anywhere by NADA. If these laboratory analytical findings are negative, then this goes to NADA records. If these are positive, then it is an antidoping rule violation and athlete is asked to appear before Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. The imposition of ineligibility for prohibited substances and prohibited methods except for the specified substances is as per rule.

First violation: 4 years ineligibility subjected to further reduction for 2 years

Second violation: 8 years to life-time ineligibility.

And last, do not forget supplements. They may contain banned/prohibited substances, may be contaminated with ban substance during manufacturing process, exclude some ingredients from their labels, and may fake claims as “approved by WADA” or “safe for athletes.” This problem is more serious in countries where the markets are not regularized.

Hence it is the moral duty of all physicians who are treating athletes to ensure that no banned drug is used for treatment of ailments in this group of patients. Also all sports associations/federations including team coach and doctor/physio to educate them regularly to avoid any mistake which can be harmful for their career as sports person. If at all any such medicine is mandatory, option of therapeutic use exemption should always be used well in time.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Olivier DH, Harm K, Maarten VB Prevalence of doping use in elite sports: A review of numbers and methods. Sports Med2015;45:57-69.  Back to cited text no. 1
WADA. The 2022 Prohibited List International Standard. Montreal, Canada: World Anti-Doping Agency; 2022.  Back to cited text no. 2
NADA. Hall No. 103–104, First Floor, Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium-110 003.  Back to cited text no. 3


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