Great dangers in sport excellence

In a previous column it was noted that the recent revelations of drug use in sport today was only just the tip of the iceberg and that over time we would find that many more top athletes would emerge as drug cheats.

The use of drugs by athletes has been near pervasive but the authorities have always been ambivalent about how they approach the matter.

Regular drugs

Since the world has become knowledgeable of the presence of drugs in sport there are certain categories of drugs that have been identified and which have been placed on a banned list. This list has been expanded over the years to the point where it now includes a number of components of some regular prescription medicine.

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) prepares at least twice a year what it believes is the most extensive listing of performance-enhancing drugs in the hope that it can catch the cheats.

The world has become very knowledgeable about the extensive use in the past of amphetamines, if only because it was common in the sport of horseracing were it was used to enhance the performance of the horses. Some smart chemists soon discovered that amphetamines would have the same impact on athletes and the usage quickly spread.

We have also witnessed the shift to ever more powerful drugs as amphetamines no longer seemed adequate and in any event it was easily detected.

We then found chemists, coaches and athletes colluding to use testosterone, nandrolone and related drugs to perform better. All the athlete needed was a disposition to do well in the particular sport.