Drug Use in Sport

Athletes using drugs to enhance performance has become one of the greatest problems facing elite international sport. Major sports organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, are putting a lot of time, effort, and money into the detection of drugs. The race between athletes using drugs and detection agencies seems to be just as fierce as sport competition itself.  

Athletes have been using drugs or other stimulants to enhance performance for centuries. Even athletes in the ancient Olympic Games in Greece used various stimulants to enhance performance. However, since the 1950s the degree of drug use has risen to a level never before seen in human athletic history.  

Drug testing began in the Olympic Games in the 1960s. One of the first sports to encounter drug use was cycling. During the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, a cyclist died from amphetamine use. In 1967, another cyclist died in the Tour de France cycling race. Around the same period, body-builders in the United States were experimenting with newly developed synthetic steroids that built muscle mass. As a result, the International Olympic Committee started testing for steroids during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada.  

Probably the most famous case of an athlete using drugs was Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson. After winning the 100-metre sprint in the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, Johnson’s drug test was found to be positive. Johnson took a synthetic steroid to build muscle mass and enhance power. Eventually, Johnson was stripped of his gold medal.  

In the aftermath of Johnson’s positive drug test, the Canadian government conducted a federal inquiry into drug use in Canadian sport. The government inquiry was the largest one to have been conducted in any country up to that point in time. The results of the inquiry found that drug use among Canadian athletes was very common. The inquiry stated that there were problems beyond just individual athletes, such as Johnson, taking drugs to enhance performance. Indeed, it was stated that there was a moral crisis throughout sport.  

Today, the race between drug detection agencies and athletes who use drugs continues. In January 2000, the International Olympic Committee created a new agency to detect drug use: the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA has provided increased resources for drug detection, especially in Olympic sports. Hopefully, WADA will be able to keep pace with the current moral crisis in sport.

1 thought on “Drug Use in Sport

  • enhance

    to improve something
    Good lighting will enhance any room.
    The publicity has done little to enhance his reputation .

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    elite adjective

    an elite group contains the best, most skilled or most experienced people or members of a larger group : 
    an elite group of artists
    elite universities


    [countable] a competition in which people or animals compete to run, drive etc fastest and finish first
    in a race
    He will be the youngest runner in the race.
    She finished second in the race.
    race between
    the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities
    Over 80 cars will take part in the race .
    She has won her last four races .
    There are only three days to go until the big race (=important race) .


    very severe; INTENSE: Because there is so much unemployment, the competition for jobs is fierce.
    The plants wilted in the fierce heat of the tropical sun.


    a drug or substance that makes you feel more active and full of energy
    artificial stimulants


    relating to athletics
    athletic ability
    athletic games


    the activity of riding a bicycle


    someone who rides a bicycle


    a drug that gives you a feeling of excitement and a lot of energy


    produced by combining different artificial substances, rather than being naturally produced

    synthetic chemicals
    synthetic fibres/materials/fabrics/rubber


    a chemical that the body produces naturally or that can be made as a drug to treat illness and injuries. Steroids are sometimes used illegally by people doing sports to improve their performance
    on steroids
    a bodybuilder on steroids


    a large amount or quantity of something
    mass of
    a huge mass of data


    someone who runs in fast races over short distances


    strip somebody of something phrasal verb
    to take away something important from someone as a punishment, for example their title, property, or power
    Captain Evans was found guilty and stripped of his rank.


    the period of time after something such as a war, storm, or accident when people are still dealing with the results
    aftermath of
    the danger of disease in the aftermath of the earthquake



    [transitive]to carry out a particular activity or process, especially in order to get information or prove facts
    conduct a survey/investigation/review etc

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    conduct an experiment/a test
    Is it really necessary to conduct experiments on animals?
    conduct a campaign
    They conducted a campaign of bombings and assassinations.
    conduct an interview
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    It was the first time that I had conducted business in Brazil.



    an official process to find out about something
    inquiry into
    a judicial inquiry into the deaths
    launch/set up/hold an inquiry (into something)

    The Civil Aviation Authority has agreed to hold an inquiry into the accident.
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    concerning or based on principles of right and wrong behavior and the difference between good and evil:
    a man of high moral principles/standards | He refused to join the army on moral grounds. | You don’t know all the circumstances of their divorce, so don’t make moral judgments about it. | Babies aren’t born with a moral sense. (=they cannot tell the difference between right and wrong) | He ran away from the enemy; it’s clear the fellow has no moral fiber. (=is a coward) | moral courage


    a situation in which there are a lot of problems that must be dealt with quickly so that the situation does not get worse or more dangerous
    ᅳsee also emergency

    The country now faces an economic crisis .
    The Prime Minister was criticized for the way in which he handled the crisis .
    the current debt crisis a major political crisis I was relieved that we had averted yet another financial crisis .
    Oil companies were heavily criticized when they made large profits during the oil crisis of the 1970s. The car industry is now in crisis .
    He doesn’t seem to be very good at crisis management .


    in, to, through, or during every part of: It rained throughout the night. | The disease spread throughout the country.
    a large organization with offices throughout the world The disease spread rapidly throughout Europe. The house is in excellent condition, with fitted carpets throughout.


    the practice of using drugs to improve performance in a sport
    doping scandal/ban/test etc doping offences

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