Doping In Sports Review | Why Do Athletes Take Drugs?

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People go to great lengths to be the best that they can be, and that includes doping in sports.

Why do athletes take drugs?

The questions about sport doping are usually answered by taking a look at the level of competition they participate in.

Extreme competition and the amount of money involved in being the best in your sport pushes people towards cheating with performance-enhancing drugs.

Doping in Sports Definition

Sport doping is the use of banned substances to enhance an athlete’s abilities.

These vary by different sport regulator bodies, but most consider doping cheating in their competitions.

More and more sports organizations are cracking down on the use of these drugs.

Why doping should not be allowed in sports?

With the use of drugs, athletes can gain unprecedented increases in performance. Many of the reasons for banning these substances are in line with keeping the sport clean.

The point of these competitions is to see who the best athlete is, not who takes the best drugs.

Many of the leading sports organizations have implemented strict doping rules. This includes testing and penalties designed to reduce doping in athletes.

The International Olympic Committee, FIFA, and Union Cycliste Elite have all made commitments to stop doping.

Doping in Sports Facts & Statistics

It may surprise you just how widespread doping is today. More than 2.5% of 12th graders surveyed in 2000 reported using steroids at one time in their lives.

By 2005, this had increased to 3.4%. The shocking thing is that doping begins at such a young age. When you take a look at the numbers, doping is not going away.

The amount of doping seen in bodybuilding is extreme in magnitude. The need to make weight and gain mass at the same time lead to high levels of doping in this sport.

More so, doping is almost everywhere, and the number of users is extremely high. It has been reported that as many as 34% of athletes the IAAF surveyed admitted to breaking doping rules. This survey covered a wide range of ages and different sports.

Athletes regularly test positive for banned substances in baseball, cycling, and a host of other sports.

At competitive levels, most sports and organizations have seen some evidence of doping in their athletes. Doping is becoming a problem throughout all sporting organizations.

Why do Athletes Take Drugs?

With all the risks, it is hard to see what makes it all worthwhile for those athletes who dope.

It is a question that needs to be answered, if any progress is going to be had in reducing the prevalent drug usage in sports. Finding the motivations is critical in any anti-doping policy.

How does doping help athletes?

It is clear to see that many athletes use doping as the only way to stay competitive. For some of the upper-tier competitive sports, doping is so common that athletes may think they can only compete if they resort to steroid use.

In other cases, the use of steroids is more complex. For example, students in grade 12 want to get an edge on the competition, but steroids can have such a detrimental affect on their bodies and can be very dangerous.

For other athletes, they seek to be the best, no matter the cost. They are constantly competing against themselves, and over time, have needed to resort to drugs to increase their capabilities.

In the end, some athletes feel the risk is worth the rewards. Whether it be to win a high-level competition or get that full scholarship, many people accept these hazards.

Even when the health risks are high, and there are terrible consequences if you get caught doping.

A large percentage of users are currently taking anabolic steroids just for body image, which is a very dangerous habit for people to get into.

How Do They Test for Drugs in Sports?

Quest Diagnostics manufactures a testing kit that gives you an idea of the typical steroid testing kit.

These testing methods most often test urine, but they can also assess blood or hair.

Don’t underestimate modern methods of testing for steroids. They are quite accurate, and trying to conceal banned substances from them is unwise.

The Quest kit alone can test for “more than 40 different anabolic agents.”

Because anabolic steroids essentially promote testosterone, a steroid user will have an enhanced supply of chemicals already in the body.

The prevalence of steroids abuse has led to an increased prevalence of steroid testing. For example, steroid use has become more widespread among high-schoolers, and this has led to steroid testing in schools.

Types of Doping in Sports

There are several types of doping drugs used today.

Depending on the organization, different drugs are considered doping.

It is up to those organizations to create the rules and definitions around doping in their sport.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has a massive list of drugs that are banned, they can be broken down into the following categories (which we’ll go into more detail below the list):

Exogenous Anabolic Androgenic agents

Endogenous Anabolic Androgenic agents

Other Anabolic agents like Clenbuterol


Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (blood doping)

Beta-2 agonists

Hormone antagonists and modulators


Diuretics and masking agents

Narcotics and cannabinoids


Beta blockers

Human Growth Hormone

One of the most talked about doping drugs are steroids. These are androgenic agents, which increase testosterone in the body. Extra testosterone leads to quicker muscle mass generation. People who take steroids also report faster recovery times.

How does doping affect athletes?

There are some a wide range of side-effects to taking steroids. There are some minor issues, like baldness and irritability seen in steroid users.

However, there are also some extreme health risks such as kidney failure and increased risk of strokes, which are linked to steroid use.

Another common drug used by athletes to dope are stimulants. They improve an athlete’s abilities by making them more alert. It also reduces the impact of fatigue through an increase of the athlete’s heart rate.

Stimulants come with their own list of side-effects. Studies show that stimulants are addictive with regular use. They also cause insomnia, shakiness, and nausea. In extreme cases, they also cause heart failure.

There are other, lesser known, substances used for doping in some sports. For example, beta blockers are banned in many archery competitions.

The reasoning is beta blockers give the athlete an unusually steady hand. In archery, this is an unfair advantage against other athletes.

In many cases, these hormones and other dangerous medications are also illegal to obtain without a prescription. These drugs come with significant health risks, and taking them without doctor supervision is extremely dangerous.

Doping in sports is not good for your health, whether it be steroids or HGH use.

Yet many people are still driven to it. This leaves people asking questions and sport doping, why do athletes take drugs, and other about drug use and the motivation behind it.

Athletes are willing to put it all on the line for the smallest of advantages.

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