Drugs In Sport History And Ethics Essay

, Research Paper HISTORY OF DRUG USE IN SPORT The Greeks had made sport an important part of their lifestyles by 800BC. It was both a cultural and religious observation of the time. Not only was there emphasis on the athletics but on artistic merit also. Participants were required as a rule to write poetry, as well as perform physical feats.

, Research Paper


The Greeks had made sport an important part of their lifestyles by 800BC. It was both a cultural and religious observation of the time. Not only was there emphasis on the athletics but on artistic merit also. Participants were required as a rule to write poetry, as well as perform physical feats.

There were rich prizes for winner. Writing from Plato reveal that the victory in the Ancient Olympics were equivalent of nearly half a million dollars. Along with this, the prize was also complemented with other rewards such as food, homes, tax exemptions and even deferment from the armed service. Athletic celebrations were an important mean of establishing economic, geographic and political importance of an area or region.

Professionalism and commercialism eventually led to corruption with bribery and cheating becoming common practice. Competitors were using extracts of mushrooms and plant seeds to ingest any preparation that might enhance performance. Along with political interference, a main reason for the dissolution Ancient Olympic games was the use of drugs.

The importance of sport continued throughout the Roman period. The use of drugs in this era has also been recorded, with chariot racers feeding their horses potent mixtures to make them run faster and gladiators using certain chemical substances to make events vigorous and bloody for the paying public.

In the Christian era, the bloodletting nature of Roman sports was unaccepted. In 396Ad the Emperor Theodosius ended the Ancient Games with a banning for all forms of Pagan sports. It was not until the 19th Century that sport re-emerged.

In the early 19th Century, sport comprised mainly of physical activity that mirrored the pace of society. Celebrations on respect to the harvest and religious holidays brought the village together. Come celebrations included drinking and dancing, pick chasing, leap frog, sack races, boxing matches and football games with over 1,000 players on a field several miles long.

More organised and sophisticated forms of sport emerged in the Industrial Revolution. Old forms of activities were modified around this time. New sports such as bowling and rugby union emerged. Activities like cockfighting and animal baiting were eventually banned. Technology was used to develop sports like golf, tennis and cricket. Two significant outcomes of the increased involvement and interest of sport were commercialism and professionalism. Mass spectators replaced communal festivals and religious celebrations of the earlier times. Soon there was greater coverage in newspapers and magazines due to the increased interest of the public. The professional sportsperson also began to take a place in society. Sport for some was now a profession.

Taking performance enhancing drugs were accepted until the drug testing programs of the late 1960 s. Athletes, coaches and administrator s turned a blind eye to the proceedings, or simply joined in. Countries eventually began to speak out against the harm that drugs were causing to the individual and sport.

The first significant anti-doping development occurred in 1960 when the Council of Europe tabled a resolution against the use of doping in sport. The acceptance of doping changed to a more positive anti-doping outlook.

There was an anti-doping legislation in France, in 1963, soon Belgium followed in 1965. It wasn t until 1967 when a cyclist Tommy Simpson in the Tour de France died, did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) became involved in international anti-doping initiatives. The Medical Commission of the IOC was established in 1967 and the first drug tests were performed at the Mexico Games in 1968. The IOC issued a list of banned substances and doping practices, which are prohibited.

Governments and international and national sporting organisations continued anti-doping initiatives through to the late 1960 s and 1970 s. Testing was more common in high-level sporting competition.

Unfortunately, athletes soon learnt quickly how to beat the system. They attempted to substitute urine samples and to cease using drugs in sufficient time for any trace of the drug to clear from the body to the drug test being taken.

In 1983, drug testing took an important step forward and procedures were drastically refined. The introduction of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry allowed accurate results in testing. Many started leaving games without competing rather than being caught. The IOC established a comprehensive set of operating procedures and standards for laboratories to ensure that drug testing was performed correctly and effectively.


The use of drug use in sport is both unhealthy and contrary to the ethics of sport .It is necessary to protect the physical and spiritual health of athletes, the values of fair play and of competition, the integrity and the unity of sport, and the rights of those who take part in it at whatever level.

(IOC, 1990)

Equal conditions for all , the most deceptively simple definition of fair play to be found in the Oxford English Dictionary. The fundamental idea of sport is considered to be character building, teaching the virtues of dedication, perseverance, endurance and self-discipline. Sport is suppose to help us learn from defeat as much as from victory, and team sports foster a spirit of co-operation, and interdependence, importing something of moral and social values. It is also integrating us as individuals, to bring about a healthy, integrated society. This would mean that drug use has no place in sport.

Equal conditions for all is the sports equivalent of the general moral principle of equal justice for all. Equal justice for all implies that the same justice applies to everybody regardless of their class, race, origin, or gender with no special privileges or advantages.

Not only is drug use clearly cheating and an ethical dilemma for coaches, doctors and officials, but it also puts the health of the athlete at great risk. It is believed that ethical problems arise because of many reasons such as:

§ The competitive character of the athlete;

§ Coaching practices that emphasise winning as the only goal;

§ Media pressure to win;

§ Prevalent attitude that doping is necessary to win;

§ Public expectations about national competitiveness;

§ Huge financial rewards for winning;

§ Unethical practices condoned by national and international sports federations;

§ Psychological belief in aids to performance (eg. The Magic Pill ).

There are many influences on drug use. There can be no justification for athletes to cheat in order to win or that the pressures and temptations are all the same for the athletes. The problem of drug use in sport is not educational, economic or a social problem, but a moral problem.

The sporting complex is seen to have been replaced by a competition between doctors and biochemists on the ones side and the regulating authorities on the other. The athlete becomes the puppet of this technology, health risks are then ignored, and other competitors cannot participate unless they too are prepared to use chemical substances to improve their performance. In this era, where genetic and chemical manipulation is commonplace it is hardly surprising that many athletes no longer rely on their natural skills and abilities.

The preservation of sport is necessary, to keep the nobility and chivalry which have been distinguished in the past, so it may continue to play the same part in the education of people of today as it did in Ancient Greece. This may have been so at the turn of the turn of the century, but in present day sport the pressured on all concerned is immense. An athlete nowadays is faced with meeting expectations of the coach, teammates, family and friends. Coaches are also faced with similar pressure, to produce the winning combination, coping with fitness levels and making demands on individuals, all of which may give the wrong signals in respect to drug misuse. Doctors also face a dilemma when they prescribe drugs to athletes and monitoring their effects as a safe way of containing drug misuse rather than knowing an athlete will seek black-market sources and advice.

There is also another perspective that constitutes drug misuse. Some banned substances such testosterone, actually originate in the body, and it is an excessive level in which has been classified as a doping offence involving testosterone/epitestosterone ratios illustrates that the debate is also ongoing. Other substances, such as ephedrine and caffeine, commonly occur in OTC medications, herbal preparations and even in social. There is no doubt that athletes are prepared to make use of these substances to assist in their performance. In many sports, increasing commercialism has seen a price put on an athlete s head; some cope better with this than others.