Doping in the world of sport and celebrities

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Doping is a complex and very controversial problem in the world of athletics in general and rumors about athletes (in spanish: rumores sobre deportistas) are growing and growing. The economic and political stakes are enormous, because over the last fifteen years, significant capital has been invested in sport. 

In this dossier we only study the medical implications of doping, the political and economic implications that have given rise to numerous publications. And not only athletes, as there are also rumors about celebrities (rumores sobre celebridades) who use these unsafe methods.

Doping has developed as sports disciplines have become professional.

In Europe, three disciplines are particularly exposed to doping: cycling, soccer and tennis.

According to the International Olympic Committee:

"Doping consists of administering substances belonging to prohibited classes of pharmacological agents and/or using various prohibited methods".

Why do athletes take drugs?

Overwork and uprooting of athletes forces them to find ways to sustain themselves physically and morally. The athlete must win and pressure from the Club and other athletes is very important.

The CNRS summary report on doping and sports practices gives 6 reasons for doping:

  1. Increases aerobic potential: increases muscle oxygenation
  2. Increase muscle power
  3. Decrease the feeling of tiredness.
  4. Make morphological changes
  5. Fighting stress
  6. Hide the medication by diluting the urine (diuretics)

Doping Products

Determined by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in the Official Journal of June 17, 1998, Decree No. 98-464 defines 5 classes of prohibited products. This list is not exhaustive and the products mentioned are examples of the best known products.

Stimulants that reduce the sensation of physical fatigue: amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine...

Narcotics, natural or synthetic, that reduce the sensation of pain: dextromoramide, diamorphine (heroin), methadone, morphine, pentazocine, pethidine and related substances.

Anabolic agents that lead to an increase in muscle strength and power and are divided into 2 classes

- Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS): testosterone, nandrolone, stanozolol ...

- beta-2 agonists.

Diuretics used to lose weight and dilute injected doping products.

Peptide and glycoprotein and similar hormones that promote the development of muscle mass: chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), human chorionic gonadotropin, ACTH, growth hormone (hGH), somatotropin.

- Prohibited methods

Blood doping is the administration of blood, red blood cells or related products to an athlete.

Pharmacological, chemical or physical manipulation whose function is to modify the urine samples collected for controls.

- The classes of substances subject to certain restrictions.

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Local anesthetics
  • Corticosteroids that reduce inflammation. Only local use or intra-articular injection is authorized.
  • Beta-blockers that reduce the heart rate.

There is no exhaustive list of doping products, but more and more drugs, used in particular pathologies, are diverted from their initial function to be used by athletes, in particular substances that facilitate oxygen transport and increase muscle mass.

Substances that have the ability to transport oxygen from the blood.

Erythropoietin or EPO

A peptide hormone, it raises hemoglobin and hematocrit levels and therefore increases endurance and maximum aerobic power. It is usually used in dialysis patients and people with anemia.

It is undetectable by conventional anti-doping controls and marketed by the Central Hospital Pharmacy. It is produced by the kidneys or by synthesis.

Short-term ingestion of EPO can cause heart attacks (heart attack, pulmonary embolism) and long-term hypertension, bone marrow cancer.

Crosslinked hemoglobin

Used as a substitute for blood transfusions, it is a synthetic molecule made from human blood.


These are simple emulsions of carbon and fluorine atoms, which act very quickly by dissolving oxygen in the blood.

Substances that increase muscle mass.

Growth Hormone

A genetically engineered peptide hormone is produced naturally by the pituitary gland. It is used for growth retardation in children. Used as a doping substance, it increases muscle strength.

IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) complements the action of growth hormone.

Androgens and Anabolics

Nandrolone is a synthetic steroid similar to testosterone, which causes less virilizing effects.

Health risks

Athletes risk their lives. The harmful effects depend on many parameters (nature of the substances consumed, duration of consumption, conditions of administration and the general condition of the athlete).

Athletes at the regional or national level are exposed to higher and more immediate risks than athletes at the international level, as they are often less medically controlled and cannot afford to buy good quality products.

The most worrisome health problems are:

The consequences of drug combinations: in fact, athletes need several products to improve their performance and do not take into account interactions.

drug dependency on certain substances such as caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis.

psychological and behavioral disorders induced in particular by anabolic steroids.

The role of the sports physician

Their role is to optimize the preparation of athletes and avoid the "slips" of doping by following the athlete and offering alternative solutions: organization of training, proposing a lifestyle compatible with competition (food, psychology).

The rumors about athletes on this subject are very broad and being informed is the best option to understand and draw conclusions about this issue.

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