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Has Doping Harmed Athletic Performance?

Has performance increased since the introduction of systematic doping?

Has performance increased since the introduction of systematic doping? Credit: urfinguss/iStock

By Aaron Hermann

An investigation of sporting performance over the past 125 years throws into doubt the assumption that doping improves athletic performance. Could it even have jeopardised it?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Doping in sport has been a problem for more than a century. Today it seems that there’s a new doping revelation each year.

Fresh in the minds of sports fans is the systematic doping by the cycling team of multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Stories of systematic doping, undetected drugs and corruption throughout the team have resounded through the minds of sports fans. Even cycling commentators who had adamantly supported Lance’s claims of racing clean found themselves backpedalling to distance themselves from their statements.

What this case showed the world is that doping is a resounding success. But is it?

The common belief, not only in scientific circles but in the general community, is that if an athlete dopes there will be an improvement in their performance. All in all, this idea is well-founded. Numerous doping scandals have showed to the world the effects of doping on the human body. State-sponsored doping in East Germany is used as the benchmark to show just how well-structured doping can work. Other cases such as the Chinese swimmers in the 1990s and the investigation of the Festina team after the 1998 Tour de France further this belief that doping benefits performance. Because of this, a considerable amount of research over the past 50 years has focused on how doping improves performance, which drugs aid in performance boosts...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.