Doping and Sport
Doping is a term used to describe the taking of drugs to enhance sporting performance. Most athletes know that doping is cheating, however some still take the risk. If doping is something you are considering, or coming under pressure to do, you need to consider both the impact it can have on your career if you are caught and the bad side effects it can mean for your health. For example, steroid use can cause acne, particularly on the back; in males it can shrink testicles, cause impotence and baldness; and females can develop a deeper voice and facial hair. More serious side effects include heart, liver and kidney problems and even death in some cases.
Drugs.ie recently visited talked to Ailish Keaveney from the Irish Sports Council to discuss the issue of doping in Sport in Ireland.
Watch the video:
There are many types of drugs that are banned in sport because of the damage they can do to an athlete’s health and to fair play. Every year a new list of banned drugs is prepared by the World Anti-Doping Agency. These drugs fall into the following categories:
- Steroids – can increase muscle and strength, but they harm the heart, liver and reproductive system and can cause sudden death
- Hormones – can have a variety of useful medical purposes, but they can be harmful when you are young and still growing
- Diuretics – may help with weight loss but they cover up the use of other banned drugs and can cause dehydration and fatigue
- Stimulants – may increase concentration and reduce tiredness, but they can also damage the heart
- Narcotics – can relieve pain but this could lead to a lasting injury
- Cannabinoids (hashish, marijuana) – can act as relaxants, but may also lead to a loss of coordination and concentration
Medication & Supplements
If you need a banned medicine for a health problem, there are ways to ensure the medication you take does not impact on your ability to play sport. Your sporting organisation and doctor can help you to apply for a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) to allow you to use this medicine and to play sport.
Some drugs or supplements from the pharmacy or supermarket can contain banned substances even if their labels state the product is ‘all natural’. Be sure to avoid any medicines or supplements that are not prescribed by a doctor who knows that you are an athlete.
Key Things to Think About:
- Sport is about expressing your true self and realising your own unique potential
- Being successful at sport takes the right attitude, practice, time and effort
- Giving your natural best is always good enough
- You will be judged on how you play, not just the result
- You, and only you, are responsible for what goes into your body
We would like to acknowledge the Irish Sports Council and UNESCO, who provided information to support this article.