Drug Testing and the Future of the Olympic Games

Drug Testing and the Future of the Olympic Games

brazil olympics

The Summer 2016 Olympic games have just begun and athletes are proving their abilities and countless hours of training. Some world records will be broken and new ones will be set. And while we are all proud of our competing country and representative athletes, we also want to see fair and just sportsmanship and competition. Without the use of drugs, that is. Performance-enhancing substances have been used in the Olympics since the 700s B.C. when the first game was hosted and has since been a struggle to control. Drug testing plays a pivotal role in ensuring a level playing field for the games.

The History of Controlling Drug Use and the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has been fighting to prevent drugs from affecting the games since it created performance-enhancing drug controls at the Winter Olympic Games in 1968. Over 60 athletes have been stripped of their winning medals since that time, and athletes continue to be punished for using substances as drug-testing technologies improve.

What Are the Top Abused Drugs in the Olympics?

The most abused performance-enhancing drugs Olympian athletes have used are Darbepoetin, Furosemide, and Tetrahydrogestrinone. Darbepoetin works by increasing the production of red blood cells which increases the oxygen delivered to the muscles, giving athletes a boost in their physical abilities. It continues to be the most abused substance in the Olympic Games since the 1968 restrictions and has cost 8 athletes their medals. Furosemide has taken 7 medals from athletes and is used not for its performance-enhancing qualities but to mask the presence of banned substances. The last drug is a steroid that has been banned and which used to be nearly impossible to detect by normal dope tests. It has accounted for 5 medals being revoked. The top three events in the Olympics with the highest rate of drug abusing athletes are men’s weightlifting, woman’s cross country skiing, and men’s cycling. More men than women have been reported to abuse performance-enhancing drugs in the Olympics.

How Have Drug Testing Rules Affected Competing Countries?

This summer at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the International Association of Athletes committee decided to ban Russia from competing in track and field due to an insufficient effort to provide top-notch drug tests and ensure athletes are clean. According to an article written by the Huffington Post, Russia is one of the top countries for abusing drugs in the history of the Olympic Games, leading the U.S. and Bulgaria. Since 1968, Russia has had 12 medals revoked due to positive drug tests for banned substances. The International Olympic Committee said that all Russian athletes wanting to enter the games are now considered a part of a system that does not follow drug-testing protocols and manipulates the measures put into place to create a fair playing field. All athletes wishing to compete in the games are required to successfully convince sports federations of their drug-free condition.

Why Are Independent Drug Testing Services Important?

The recent enforcement of athletes to prove their innocence against performance-enhancing substances proves the importance of using independent drug testing facilities to protect the integrity of the games and ensure the competition is free from drugs that can manipulate results.  Drug-testing labs with the most up-to-date technology for detecting drug use in the body are crucial moving forward if the Olympic Games are to continue to be a prestigious showmanship of men’s and women’s strength, skills, and capabilities. The Olympic Games have a long and rich history celebrating the power of mankind, but with advancing forms of drugs, drug-testing services are required to advance as well to maintain the original purpose of the games.

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