Anti-doping Measures and Technology Advancement
Many athletes and sportsmen and women in the world have at one time or another toyed with the idea of using performance enhancing drugs in order to maximize their chances of winning in the competitions (Houlihan, 2002).
The use of these drugs is often referred to as doping. It is unethical as it gives users advantages over other athletes who are not using the drugs thus lack of equality in the competition. Apart from this, they pose a serious threat to the health of the users.
Examples include steroids, testosterone, strychnine, Benzedrine, erythropoietin among others. Adding to the list of doping are technology techniques such as gene modification and ionized shirts, tough these shirts have not yet been classified in the doping list. Performance enhancing drugs have for a long time been a major concern to sports organizers who have constantly tried to stop the habit.
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Doping has existed in the sports world for as long as possible.
According to Dimeo (2007), the first performance enhancing substances were used as early as 1807. However most were herbs and liquids that were eaten or drunk. The first real use of performance enhancers were seen in 1904 in the Olympics.
However formal doping tests only started in the late 1960s when sports organizations saw the need to place an equal platform for all athletes to ensure fair competition. Performance enhancers were banned from the Olympics in 1968 by the International Olympic committee (IOC).
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was formed in November 1991 led by IOC to promote the fight against use of drugs in sports. It aimed at promoting the fight through coordination from other stakeholders in the world. In 2004, the World Anti-Doping Code was implemented by various sports organizations making rules and regulations governing sports to be unified in many countries just before the Olympic game in Athens, Greece.
Currently, over two hundred countries are signatories of the WADA Code. WADA communicates its rules about performance enhancing drugs and penalties using the prohibited list which is updated every year to cater for any changes and new discoveries (David, 2008).
The progress in technology and pharmacology has always caused a threat to these organizations’ ability to cope with drugs in sports. Manufacturers have been so crafty when making performance enhancing drugs that methods and apparatus used to test for drugs among athletes seem to miss out on some drugs in the sportsmen.
According to Tansey (2008) of the San Francisco Chronicle, sports doping detection is an ever ending science which has to keep on being updated. Traditionally, urine samples were used to detect illegal samples in sportsmen.
Steroid dopers have always remained ahead of the anti-doping organizations as they keep inventing new designer steroids that are more difficult to detect using the current technologies available in WADA and other organizations. Use of synthetic growth hormones which are hard to differentiate from natural growth hormones has not helped in the anti-doping campaigns.
The most recent technology in performance enhancing is the ionized shirts known as ionX developed in New Zealand. These shirts are made of fabrics containing negative ions which are believed to improve performance when ionization takes place after contact with the body. Ionized shirts have not been classified as doping and investigations are still being carried out to determine the chemistry behind them.
The Speedo LZR racer swimsuits are said to be a form of technological doping. It came as a surprise when thirty eight world records were set within months of Speedo’s introduction of their swimsuits. It was also said that remarkably average swimmers displayed higher speeds than would be expected.
Gene doping is another technology where athletes and other sportsmen and women use genetic modification in order to enhance their performance.
Also known as genetic engineering, this is a technique where genes are inserted into cells to produce certain defects such as correction of genetic errors. In athletics genes are modified to alter the functioning of the cells such that the genes inserted help the athlete perform better (Tamburrini and Tannsjo, 2005).
This usually happens in terms of enhanced muscle developments. Gene modification was added to the list of prohibited methods and substances by the International Olympic Committee. However, technology required to perform tests of determining genetic modification in athletes are quite complex. WADA is still doing more research to fight this advanced doping method.