Performance-enhancing drugs have continued to evolve, with “advances” in doping strategies driven by improved drug testing detection methods and advances in scientific research that can lead to the discovery and use of substances that may later be banned. Many sports organizations have come to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs and have very strict consequences for people caught using them. There is variable evidence for the performance-enhancing effects and side effects of the various substances that are used for doping.

  • Sporting authorities have banned many drugs because they may give an athlete an unfair advantage.
  • There are many reasons why athletes use drugs, but substance abuse in any situation often leads to addiction and health complications.
  • Is harm prevention a reasonable justification for limiting drug use in sport?
  • “It is critical for our participants to learn about these positive trends and healthier social norms in order for them to develop evidence-informed substance misuse prevention action plans to implement when they return to campus.”

“It is critical for our participants to learn about these positive trends and healthier social norms in order for them to develop evidence-informed substance misuse prevention action plans to implement when they return to campus.” The APPLE Training Institute, developed and coordinated by the University of Virginia’s Gordie Center and funded by the NCAA, is a national substance misuse prevention and health promotion conference for student-athletes and athletics department administrators. Overall, NCAA student-athletes reported less use of alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs than the general college student population surveyed by the American College Health-National College Health Assessment III (2023) and the Monitoring the Future Panel Study (2022).

Other recreational drugs

Within the context of substance use treatment, there are several evidence-based medications and therapy methods that have been found to be effective for these disorders. Out of the present studies, very few have explored therapeutic techniques in athletes. Motivational interviewing (MI), Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Contingency Management (CM) are implemented to increase motivation to decrease use and ultimately change their behaviors.

The exact test used will depend on what types of substances are being checked for and the policies of the league doing the testing. As with any drug use, the exact reasons an athlete turns to drugs in sport are personal. However, a common factor is—as one would assume—improved performance and physical condition. Besides prescription medication, many athletes may turn to illicit substances to deal with mental health conditions, stressors, and pain that they experience.

Medical Professionals

Some athletes take such drugs in a social environment, without intent to enhance performance. However, in addition to these drugs having potential performance- enhancing properties, an athlete who is under the influence of such drugs may pose a danger to fellow competitors. Drugs are used widely within society, throughout the world, for social and recreational purposes. These drugs range from caffeine, a constituent of many beverages, through to illegal drugs of abuse, such as cocaine.

why do athelets drug use in sports

It is interesting to note that, in recent years, cannabinoids have been the second or third most frequently identified class of prohibited substances appearing on the WADA annual laboratory statistics. This probably reflects the widespread use of cannabinoids within society and the lack of understanding by many athletes regarding the period of time that substances can remain in the body after consumption. As we have seen in Table 2, there are several classes of drugs that athletes drug use in sports may need to take for legitimate therapeutic reasons but which appear on the WADA Prohibited List. Under these circumstances, the athlete, with their medical practitioner, may apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), details of which appear in the WADA International Standard for TUEs4. Clearly, it is in the athlete’s interest to ensure that accurate identification of those medicines that contain prohibited substances is undertaken on each occasion that a medicine is taken.

What Are the Different Types of Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that mimic or enhance the effects of testosterone. In medical settings, they can be used to treat muscle loss and delay the onset of puberty. Anabolic steroids can affect sex hormone production in men, resulting in shrunken testicles, infertility, gynecomastia, and prostate enlargement. In women, they will begin to develop ‘manly’ features such as baldness, more body hair, and a bigger clitoris. Steroids are easily the most well-known type of doping drug; however, they are not the only type. They are not even the most commonly used performance-enhancing drug; instead, general supplements are, with creatine leading the pack.

However, some athletes may have long-term conditions, such as asthma, that require medical intervention. Additionally, athletes, like any member of the general population, are not immune to short-term conditions such as coughs and colds. Drug treatment for any of these conditions requires vigilance in relation to athletes. In response to this objection, ethicist Julian Savulescu has argued that performance-enhancing drugs are not particularly dangerous, and if their use was no longer clandestine they would be safer still.

Most of these interventions have focused on alcohol use because it is a legal substance readily available in most communities. An example of a well-known environmental intervention involved raising the drinking age in the United States from 18 to 21, which resulted in a decrease in alcohol consumption and traffic crashes (Wagenaar & Toomey, 2002). A number of effective intervention and prevention strategies for alcohol abuse and drug use have been identified. This section of the chapter will address those strategies that have been well-studied and have the strongest empirical support. When possible, research that has examined these approaches specifically among athletes is presented here. Most of these studies focus on alcohol use, but in some cases their findings may translate to other substances.

  • In January 2013, the retired American cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and banned from sport for life.
  • Instead, talk to your coach about safer options, such as nutrition, alternate forms of training, or the implementation of sports psychology techniques.
  • Not all student-athletes with substance use problems consume alcohol or drugs in settings where the signs are easily visible; some may choose to consume these substances alone so as to avoid drawing attention to these signs.
  • The recent doping scandal at the 2022 Beijing Games reminded the world of sport, doping has not gone away.
  • It also raises the levels of the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s organs, called hemoglobin.
  • Since 2009, self-reported rates of binge drinking within the last year have decreased from 55% to 35%.

There was a collective sigh of relief earlier this week when Usain Bolt triumphed in the blue-riband men’s 100m event over Justin Gatlin, who has previously served two bans for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Three other athletes in the final – Mike Rodgers, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell – had also received previous bans for doping. The reasons why athletes take drugs is many and varied, but for sure, this is a problem that will not, unfortunately, go away anytime soon.