Intel, on Doping

Pretty stupid, actually.

But, for some – for a while, at least – it works.

The use of drugs to enhance physical performance has been a feature of human competition since the beginning of recorded history.

Usually, the goal of the user is to increase strength or to overcome fatigue.

Their ultimate aim: to gain an (unfair) advantage, over the opposition.

Today we classify such drugs as anabolics and stimulants.

Anabolics are synthetic hormones (steroids) used to stimulate the growth of muscle and bone.

Steroids are produced using testosterone and are taken orally, injected or absorbed into the skin. Modifications are made to testosterone to enhance its anabolic (muscle building) effects while reducing the male sexual characteristics of the drug.

Overtraining by athletes can result in muscle breakdown, and steroids are designed to prevent muscle breakdown, allowing for extra training.

The side effects of steroids were harnessed by the German army during World War II, in an attempt to create more aggressive, physically strong soldiers.

After World War II, anabolic steroids were used to reverse the wasting effects of confinement, on prisoners of Nazi concentration camps.

A stimulant is any drug that temporarily quickens some vital physical or mental process.

Couch it in whatever terms you will.

It’s cheating.

And it’s been going on for a long, long time.

From Ancient…
The ancients learned of the anabolic and androgenic (increase in male characteristics) function of the testes, by observing the effects of castration on domesticated animals.

They – as well as people of the medieval period – indulged in organotherapy (the eating of the organs of animals and humans to cure disease, and to improve vitality and other aspects of performance).

While the violation of Olympic rules was dealt with harshly in the ancient games, it does not appear that the use of drugs and other substances to improve athletic performance was considered cheating.

Nor does it appear that any culture in early history made an effort to discourage the use of such performance-enhancing substances.

…to Modern
Chemical enhancement was outlawed in horse racing as early as 1903.

Human beings were another matter.

Mystery surrounds the first death associated with performance-enhancing drugs, but it is claimed that the Welsh cyclist Arthur Linton died after taking the stimulant trimathyl.

Taking part in the 1886 Bordeaux to Paris cycle race, Linton collapsed and died. Typhoid fever is given as the official cause of death, but Linton is usually cited as the first known drug death in sport.

Not until the 1920s was there any widespread attempt to clamp down on doping in sport – much less designate it as a formal violation of rules, or as cheating.

The word ‘doping’ itself in this context only became part of the English language in 1933.

And it was not until 1967 that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to adopt a drug-testing policy banning the use of specific drugs.

In 1969, however, an investigative report by Sports Illustrated magazine concluded that, ‘not a single major U.S. sporting organization, amateur or professional… has specific anti-doping regulations with an enforcement apparatus’ (Gilbert,1969 c:34).

In 1982 the National Football League (NFL) finally began drug-testing players – although the NFL did not test for anabolic steroids until 1987.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) did not initiate a drug-testing program until 1986.

The use of steroids became a worldwide scandal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and world record for the 100 meters after the steroid Stanozol was found in his urine.

In 1998, Major League baseball star Mark McGwire acknowledged that he had used androstenedione, an anabolic steroid that is banned specifically by the IOC, the NCAA and the NFL.

Professional baseball has not banned this or any other steroid and has no drug-testing program in place for performance-enhancing drugs.

Problems of Enforcement
In 1990, the U.S. Congress introduced the Anabolic Steroids Control Act, making the trafficking of steroids a felony instead of a simple misdemeanor offense.

This was followed in 1999 by the International Olympic Committee establishing the independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to handle testing of athletes around the world.

They have their work cut out, for them.

Anti-doping agencies find it notoriously difficult to keep up with new forms of performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes that are hard to detect in doping tests.

Today, it’s EPO and blood doping.

Tomorrow; who knows?

Not me, certainly.

But I’m sure someone out there is working on it.

I’ll let you get back to work, now.