P. Dimeo, John Taylor
Jan 15, 2013
Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Drug use in sport has a number of defining features with regard to type of drug, policy, behaviours and the collection of evidence. Since the mid-1960s, sports authorities with the support of other Government agencies have attempted to prevent high-level competitive athletes from enhancing their performance with stimulants or enhancing their training with steroids, growth hormones, blood boosters and other related practices known as ‘doping’. This attempted control has been based on establishing a list of banned substances, testing athletes for these and subsequently punishing those found guilty. A number of critics have argued that ‘anti-doping’ policy and testing has consistently failed to stop this form of cheating. Over time, the testing methods have become more sophisticated and the amount of testing has increased, especially since the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 1999 to co-ordinate and improve international activities. This article reviews the testing statistics since then, and contrasts those to the evidence provided by quantitative social science research into prevalence. The extent of doping suggested by the latter is significantly higher than that found in the official statistics. The implications of this will be discussed.