Doping in Sports

“It is happening everywhere, including smaller regional sports hostels. Syringes and needles have been seen on athletics fields and in the room of athletes. It is dangerous, especially for athletes who come from small town/villages and are oblivious of what awaits them.”

These are the words of a SAI (Sports Authority of India) coach who recently resigned from the most prestigious sports institution in India because he did not want to be a part of the cult. Doping in sports has literally grown into a cult. Despite the physical and anatomical changes, the expensive science involved, the fatal risks and the stringent anti doping rules, athletes are pursuing doping audaciously.

Doping in sports has been taking place since a long time but has grown to an issue of concern lately. Not only is the impact of doping disastrous but it is increasingly turning into an addiction. The institution which is a matter of pride for not only an individual but the whole nation is getting smeared. In the race to glory and wealth, the competitors resolve to everything to overcome anything that comes in their way. There is a napoleon in each one of them, who loses in the hands of ethics. If they resort to be ethical means, they lose the race before it starts. Hence one competition gives rise to another competition. And the latter is fatal.

Despite various organizations like WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) being formed apart from the several national sports federations, councils and clubs who have been working on putting a restriction on the number of athletes getting into dope addiction, there has been little control over the number of cases resorting to the same. In fact the numbers have been rising steadily. Though, there is no accurate method of assessing the exact statistics. Recently, it has been proven that though the percentage of positive cases, after a sample test of a group of athletes, came down, the number of fatalities due to the use of banned substances during the same period went up. This clearly is an indication that the number of restricted substance usages hasn’t gone down rather has been concealed.

Doping is not just a scientific triumph put to application. It is essentially the consequence of the various personal, sociological, psychological and economical factors. The mental will to win, pressure and expectations, constant push to excel and discrepancy in the facilities available are just a few to mention.

With advancements in science and technology, the human body has been literally decoded and it’s more convenient to apply a formula which can make one code work more efficiently. This has altered the natural processes and led to the loss of body equilibrium. Further formulas have been devised to bring the lost equilibrium back. In simpler terms, these formulas are termed as upstream and downstream doping respectively. While downstream doping is considered to be good since it helps to restore the lost anatomical balance, but when used in conjunction with upstream it also is assumed to aid the evil and hence bad.

There are various means of doping – oral pills, blood transfusion techniques, genetic doping etc. and each has its own effects and consequences. Apart from these, there are various masking agents which help in concealing the detection of a banned substance by either diluting it or reacting with it to form another substance which is undetectable. These masking agents are increasingly being used to hide the reflection of the dope in medical examinations and making espial difficult. This is more threatening than the dope itself because it is very difficult to detect the masking agent and hence there is no way of controlling the intake.

Though Sports Councils are releasing lists of banned drugs and inventing tests which can also detect a masking agent, there is more exploitation of science going on simultaneously on the other side as well. Hence, the dope tests are proving to be insufficient in protecting the field of sports from getting polluted by dope.

The desire to win is maddening and the catalysts to this lunacy being the sports clubs and federations themselves. There is a direct correlation between a player’s performance and his worth for the club. Hence with these accelerators, the desire has transformed into lust. This lust cannot be controlled by any biological test but a proper intellectual and mental orientation.

“…for the honour of our nation and the glory of sports” These are the concluding words of the oath which the athletes take before any championship. The honour and glory have lost their true definitions in the dictionaries handed over to them. It’s time to rectify the wrongs done and make the games cleaner.

This argument also has an angle which points to the existing economical rift. Athletes from rich and wealthy countries can afford exclusive doctors and medical advisers under whose supervision the deed is done. The sufferers are the ones who aren’t wealthy enough to do the same and hence, to keep up to the level, they fall back to self medication or unsupervised medications. This is known as ‘poor men’ doping and can have more calamitous effects. It is also evident from previous records that the detected cases are usually from developing regions because they are ill equipped with masking agents. Hence doping is not only a biological volcano erupting and burning many, it’s also acting as a bug in the social and economical structure of the world.
Doping is a hierarchical phenomenon whose origin is at the top. It’s like a virus spreading across the sporting world whose immediate blessing is so enchanting that one forgets about the curse that accompanies it. The light of victory blinds them all. They have two options – a masking agent to the victory or an unmasked and dope-free path to the defeat. And they choose victory over ethics.

The need of the hour is education. Various anti doping and research organizations are trying to devise ways to keep the sports ‘clean’. After analyzing various other ways it has been deduced that only ethical education and self realization can vacuum clean the dirt spread around.

Seema Dahiya

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