Dope: Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Dope: Faster, Higher, Stronger
Dope: Faster, Higher, Stronger

Sport and doping - these two words have been increasingly used together lately. But, as a rule, we know more about sports than about doping. Today we will try to fix it.


Doping - definition

It is customary to call doping substances of natural or synthetic origin, by taking which an athlete can improve his sports results. So this term is used in the media. The word "doping" itself comes from the English dope - drug, intoxication. In sport, this concept probably came from racing, since for the first time substances to improve performance were used on horses.

The definition of doping given by the World Anti-Doping Code has a slightly different content. Its drafters did not particularly bother and pointed out that doping is a violation of the anti-doping rules specified in the code itself. Moreover, doping in the common sense of the word can be not only substances (prohibited substances), but also prohibited methods. For example, manipulation of blood and its components. Thus, transfusing an athlete with his own blood accelerates the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, increasing their performance.

In total, the code lists ten anti-doping rule violations for which an athlete, as well as his coach or doctor, can be disqualified. Here, both the use of illegal drugs and the evasion of doping tests or their falsification, failure to report their whereabouts, the distribution of illegal substances, and so on.

WADA - what is it?

In all the doping scandals of recent times, it is WADA that is the main player. The World Anti-Doping Agency - as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is translated from English - was created not so long ago, namely in 1999. The impetus for its creation was the incident at the Tour de France-1998, a multi-day cycling race, when illegal drugs were found on many athletes and team representatives.


In February 1999, the first World Conference on Doping in Sport was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, where it was decided to create an independent anti-doping organization that will fight doping on an international scale. The founders of the agency, created at the end of 1999, were the International Olympic Committee and the governments of several countries. And at the second World Doping Conference, held in 2003 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the World Anti-Doping Code and WADA International Standards were approved.

WADA is responsible for drug control at and outside of major competitions and regulates the list of prohibited drugs. The agency publishes an updated version of the list annually. This is done three months before its entry into force. The current version of the list is valid from January 1, 2016. Among her innovations was the inclusion of meldonium in the list of prohibited drugs, due to the use of which tennis player Maria Sharapova received a two-year disqualification.

In addition, the World Anti-Doping Agency allocates funds for the research of substances and methods prohibited in sports, prepares and distributes materials on the fight against doping, and is engaged in the accreditation of anti-doping laboratories around the world. Depriving a laboratory of accreditation can have serious consequences for the country in which it is located. So, in April, the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory was deprived of WADA accreditation. Since May of this year, she was only given back the right to take blood tests.

Anti-Doping Code

The document on which the fight against doping is based on a global scale is the World Anti-Doping Code.First adopted in 2003, the code is now in effect as approved at the 2013 World Anti-Doping Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Code is a universal document that fully covers all anti-doping procedures. In addition to the definition of doping and the list of violations, it contains rules for proving violations, conducting an investigation and appealing their results. It also defines the criteria for the inclusion of substances and methods in the prohibited list and the main provisions on the issuance of permits for therapeutic use. These issues are already regulated in detail in the International Standards.

Therapeutic Exception - Legal Use of Illicit Drugs

Almost all prohibited substances are included in the composition of medicines. And athletes, just like ordinary people, sometimes get sick. And some of the diseases become chronic. In these cases, the athlete has the right to obtain permission for the therapeutic use of a particular drug. The procedure for issuing such authorizations is specifically regulated in the International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions (ISTI). The current version of the standard came into force on January 1, 2016

They started talking about such permissions after the hacker group Fancy Bears broke into the database of the World Anti-Doping Agency. From the published documents, the authenticity of which was recognized by WADA, it follows that many famous athletes, including the winners of the Rio Olympics, took drugs that are prohibited for other athletes. At the same time, some athletes received such permits, while others were barred from participating in competitions for the detection of the same drugs in doping tests.

For example, tennis player Serena Williams, the youngest of the two Williams sisters, took oxycodone with the permission of WADA. The drug is used to treat pain in acute or chronic pain. True, Jamaican athlete Shelley-Ann Fraser-Price was suspended from the competition for six months in 2010 after oxycodone was found in her doping test. But the use of triamcinolone "makes" Austrian tennis player Stefan Kubek and the eldest of the Williams sisters Venus related. But Kubek was suspended for three months, and Venus Williams was using the illegal drug legally. In total, several dozen athletes were included in the Fancy Bears list.


How doping tests are taken and what happens if they are positive

Athletes are checked both at competitions and outside of them. They can come home to the athlete, on vacation, or anywhere. Athletes participating in major competitions must report their location changes so that doping officers can find them whenever they want. Blood and urine are taken for a sample. But they can only do one thing, most often urine. If everything is simple with a urine sample, then a doping officer must have a special certificate for blood sampling.

Samples are immediately divided into two parts: sample A and sample B. The second will be opened only if prohibited substances are found in the first. The athlete will be notified of this, and he can declare his desire to open the B sample and even be present at the autopsy on his own. The autopsy takes place in the same laboratory where the A sample was tested, but it is assigned to another specialist. Autopsy of B samples for an athlete is paid - $ 800-1000, the exact amount depends on the laboratory.

For an anti-doping rule violation, an athlete is subject to disqualification for a period of two to four years, but he can be reduced to one year or reduced. But this is in the event that you got caught for the first time. In case of repeated violation, the term can be doubled. And if a third violation is established, the athlete is disqualified for life. In addition, the results of the competition are canceled with all the ensuing consequences, including the withdrawal of medals, points and prizes.Withdrawn prize money will be transferred to other athletes. In addition, a life-long period of ineligibility may be imposed for the distribution of illegal drugs. Appeals are made to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Prohibited drugs and statistics of their use

The List of Prohibited Drugs, published annually by WADA, consists of three parts. In the first, there are substances and methods prohibited both during the competition and outside of them. This includes, in particular, anabolic agents (S1), peptide hormones, growth factors, like substances and mimetics (S2), beta-2 agonists (S3), hormones and metabolic modulators (S4), diuretics (diuretics) and other masking agents. agents (S5). The following manipulations with blood and its components (M1) are also prohibited at any time: this includes blood transfusion procedures for an athlete, including his own. In the same group, chemical and physical manipulations (M2), these are actions to change urine and / or change its properties, and so on. Gene doping (M3) is not allowed for use at any time. Only during the competition period stimulants (S6), drugs (S7) and cannabinoids (S8) such as hashish, marijuana, spice and glucocorticoids (S9) are prohibited. Alcohol (P1) and beta-blockers (P2) are included in the third part of the list and are prohibited (unless, of course, they are not in the first two parts of the list) in certain sports, such as motorsport.

As part of its role in anti-doping transparency, WADA prepares and publishes annual statistical reports on the detection of doping by accredited laboratories. At the moment, the last of these reports (for 2014) is posted on the website of the Anti-Doping Agency. He gives very interesting statistics on the illegal drugs that athletes have been caught using. Let's analyze the main ones.


Anabolic agents (S1) lead in the frequency of use. Almost every second athlete convicted of doping resorted to the use of anabolic steroids, this is 48% of the number of detected anti-doping rule violations. Anabolic substances (including anabolic steroids) are used in medicine to recover from prolonged severe illness, and in sports to increase muscle mass. Anabolics stimulate the synthesis of proteins in the body, accelerate the formation and renewal of cells, tissues and muscle structures, that is, they enhance the anabolic processes in the body.

To understand the role of anabolic steroids in our body, you need to remember such a well-known concept as metabolism, or metabolism. So, there are two types of metabolic processes: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the process of breakdown, the decomposition of complex substances into simpler ones. Typically, this process is accompanied by the release of energy. The intensity of this process is regulated by hormones. For example, glucocorticoids - steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex - accelerate the breakdown of proteins and amino acids. At the same time, they inhibit glucose catabolism, or rather, increase its anabolism. But insulin, a peptide hormone produced by the pancreas, increases the intensity of glucose catabolism, but at the same time inhibits protein catabolism.

Anabolism, in turn, is the opposite of catabolism. It is the process of synthesizing complex compounds from simpler ones. As a result of anabolism, large-molecular cellular components are formed, such as proteins, lipids (fats and fat-like substances), polysaccharides, nucleic acids, and so on. From them, in the future, the tissues of the body are built, primarily muscle. Various hormones and substances are involved in the process of anabolism. For example, testosterone - the main male sex hormone - is still on the list of the most used anabolic agents by athletes (now it is in 15th place).But the leader in the class of prohibited substances is the steroid drug stanozolol. According to WADA statistics, every fifth athlete who got on the use of anabolic steroids used it. Stanozolol is an anabolic steroid derived from dihydrotestosterone, a biologically active form of testosterone that is produced from it in target organ cells such as muscles.

Stanozolol, penetrating into the nucleus of the cell, is able to activate its genetic apparatus. As a result, the synthesis of DNA, RNA and structural proteins is increased. It can not only stimulate anabolic processes, but also suppress catabolic processes. Stimulates bone calcification. But, like other steroid drugs, it has side effects that are detrimental to the health of the athlete. True, it should be noted that many are sure that stanozolol is one of the most harmless drugs. Compared to testosterone, it is a fairly weak androgen (male sex hormone). Consequently, the androgenic side effects that are inherent in anabolic steroids should be less noticeable when taking stanozolol. We are talking, in particular, about the virilization of the body, that is, the development of male secondary sexual characteristics, both in male and female athletes. Here it is worth mentioning the phenomenon of "steroid rage", which is associated with the use of anabolic steroids. An increase in the amount of testosterone in the blood causes aggressiveness and irritability. At the same time, the low androgenic activity of stanozolol still makes it dangerous for people with an unstable psyche. Speaking specifically about this drug, experts note its toxicity to the liver.

It has been used in sports for a long time. In the 80s, the athletic achievements of the Canadian runner of Jamaican origin Ben Johnson saddened another famous athlete Carl Lewis a lot. By the way, he himself was seen using the stimulant ephedrine. Since 1985, Johnson has pushed his colleague out of the leadership position in the 100-meter race. But already in 1988, Ben Johnson was disqualified for using stanozolol. And the gold of the Seoul Olympics went to Carl Lewis. Ultimately, Ben Johnson was disqualified for life.


Stimulants (S6), or stimulants, act on the central and peripheral nervous system. Among them: ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, amphetamine, caffeine, strychnine, phenotropil, mesocarb (sydnocarb) and other similar substances. Stimulants increase mental and physical performance, vitality and reduce fatigue. Their mechanism of action is to stimulate interneuronal impulse transmission. They release the neurotransmitters catecholamines, primarily norepinephrine (responsible for wakefulness) and dopamine (part of the "reward system"), from nerve endings and block their reuptake.

In anti-doping statistics, stimulants are ranked second. According to WADA estimates, 15% of violations are associated with the intake of stimulants. The leaders of this group are methylhexanamine - 16% of cases. Created for the first time back in the 40s, it was used to treat nasal congestion and was included in the list of prohibited drugs only in 2010. It is noteworthy that at first it was obtained from geranium, but now methylhexanamine is mainly produced synthetically. In terms of strength, methylhexanamine is inferior to such well-known stimulants as amphetamine and ephedrine, but superior to caffeine. The second line of popularity is with methylphenidate (15%) - the same one that was found in doping tests of the American gymnast, four-time Olympic champion in Rio Simona Biles. Amphetamine ranks third - 15% of cases.

Introduced in the late 70s of the last century, ephedrine is still one of the most popular stimulants, it is in sixth place.It was on his use that the famous Argentine footballer Diego Maradona was caught in 1998, for which he was disqualified for 15 months. But many of the stimulant compounds are found in cough remedies. Nine-time Olympic champion in sprint and long jump and eight-time world champion, American athlete Carl Lewis also got caught on the use of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. But he said that he did not know that the composition of the medicine he was taking for the common cold included illegal substances. And they believed him.


The main side effect of taking stimulants is mental dependence, similar to that of drugs. But a sharp refusal to take them leads to depression, constant fatigue and drowsiness. By the way, caffeine and nicotine are also considered stimulants. But, despite this, they do not apply to prohibited substances. However, WADA still monitors their use to detect misuse in sports. As, however, and some other substances that may appear in the next editions of the prohibited list.

The history of sports also knows examples of the use of doping, which now may seem curious to us. Strychnine, which is better known as a poison, is one of the first stimulant doping drugs used. In 1904, American track and field athlete Thomas Hicks became the champion of the Summer Olympics in St. Louis. He participated in the marathon, but reached the finish line only thanks to two injections of strychnine and two assistants who led him under the arms at the end of the distance. The athlete's doctor injected him with doping right at the distance. But at the finish line he was still the second. Fred Lorz, subsequently disqualified, crossed the finish line first. They deprived him of his awards for using a slightly different "doping" - this marathon runner drove part of the way by car. As a result, the gold medal went to Thomas Hicks - there was no ban on doping at that time.


Diuretics (S5) rank third in terms of the number of uses - 13%. Diuretics increase urination (diuresis) by disrupting the processes of reabsorption of ions (mainly Na + and Cl -) and water in the renal tubules. The rate of urine formation increases, respectively, the fluid content in the tissues of the body decreases. In sports, diuretics (furosemide, amiloride, chlorthalidone, acetazolamide and others) are used for several reasons. With urine, other drugs prohibited for use are excreted from the body. The decrease in urine density also allows masking their use. Where athletes compete in different weight categories, diuretics can quickly reduce the athlete's body weight. In bodyfitness, figure skating, and gymnastics, diuretics can help improve physical appearance. It is believed that due to dehydration, the body becomes more prominent and attractive.

Glucocorticoids (S9) - 8% and the fourth position on the list. We have already spoken about them. Among other things, they have a versatile effect on the body, glucocorticoids have an effect on metabolism. These are also steroids, but, unlike “anabolic steroids”, they have the opposite catabolic effect and do not improve athletic performance when used alone. But in combination with other drugs, it is believed that it is possible. The first place in application is occupied by budesonide, which does not tell the reader about anything (29%). But on the second - prednisolone (22%), on the third - prednisone (17%), on the sixth - methylprednisolone (6%). All of these synthetic glucocorticoid drugs, as recently revealed, were approved for use by Serena Williams.

Hormones and metabolic modulators (S4) - 5% and fifth place. This group also includes the meldonium found in the possession of Maria Sharapova. But, since it has been included in the list since 2016, it is not reflected in the statistics. In the first place is tamoxifen.In biochemistry and pharmacology, some substances are divided into antagonists and agonists. We will talk about agonists later. And tamoxifen is an estrogen receptor antagonist. Estrogens are female sex hormones, but in fact they are also produced in the male body. Tamoxifen is used in combination with anabolic agents. Its purpose is to prevent the harmful effects of converting testosterone to estrogens. Taking anabolic steroids leads to excess testosterone in the body. Not being able to be completely metabolized in the standard way, it goes bypass, through the so-called aromatization. As a result, testosterone (male sex hormone) is converted to estrogen (female sex hormone). For male athletes, this threatens feminization: the development of sexual characteristics characteristic of women. Tamoxifen causes blocking of estrogen receptors and prevents the development of this unpleasant phenomenon.

If you remember about Norwegian athletes with asthma and winning various international competitions, then they take drugs from the S3 group - beta-2 agonists. 69% of Olympic medals won by Norwegian skiers belong to asthmatics. But, of course, we are not talking about Norwegians, they all have permission to use these drugs. And the question of whether the drugs they take give an advantage over other athletes is debatable and not fully resolved. Beta-2 agonists rank sixth in statistics and 4% abuse. Here, for a start, it must be said that agonists are substances (drugs) that increase or excite the functional activity of a certain type of receptor. The hormones and neurotransmitters mentioned above are also agonists, it is simply not customary to call them that. Beta-2 agonists stimulate beta-2 adrenergic receptors in airway cells. Beta-2 they are called because there is also beta-1 and beta-3. Beta-1 receptors predominate in the salivary glands, heart tissue and some others. Beta-3 receptors are mainly found in adipose fibers, which are responsible for storing and metabolizing fats for other compounds and organs.

So, beta-2 agonists, interacting with beta-2 adrenergic receptors, and contribute to the expansion of the bronchi, which leads to an improvement in gas exchange and, as a result, gives an advantage over other athletes. But this is if, of course, we are talking about a healthy athlete using doping, and not a real asthma. By the way, the Norwegians also came across: in the summer of this year, Martin Sundby was disqualified for two months. In his doping test, an excess of the permissible level of the asthma drug salbutamol was found (third place in use among beta-2 agonists - 7%). In the first place is terbutaline, which is similar in pharmacological properties and chemical structure to salbutamol. This is followed by 76% of detected cases.

Group S2, which includes peptide hormones and growth factors, accounts for 3% of abuse (7th place). It is headed by erythropoietin, one of the kidney hormones. It controls erythropoiesis (the formation of red blood cells of erythrocytes). In 2012, American cyclist Lance Armstrong was disqualified for life for the use and distribution of doping. Armstrong not only used erythropoietin, but also distributed it to colleagues. Erythropoietin increases the production of red blood cells and increases the hemoglobin content in the blood. As a result, oxygen delivery to the muscles improves and, as a result, the athlete's physical performance increases. It is used in those sports where increased endurance is required: long-distance running, cycling, race walking, cross-country skiing, biathlon.

Closing the list of substances that crossed the one percent barrier, kanabioids (S8) - they were used by 2% of athletes whose doping tests were positive. Among athletes, marijuana is believed to relieve pre-start excitement and relax.At the same time, like any drug, it is addictive, and smoking it has many negative consequences. By the way, American swimmer, 23-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps was convicted of using marijuana in 2009, for which he was suspended from the competition for three months.


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