drugstore clerk antibiotics Li Zongxian/ZumaPress

The Future of the Anti-Doping Fight

The exposure of Russia’s far-reaching state-sponsored doping program has brought the practice to the forefront of public consciousness. We should take this as an opportunity to redouble our efforts to end this deeply unhealthy behavior – and save elite sports.

SOLNA, SWEDEN – Elite sports and doping have long been deeply interlinked. But the damning report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Russia’s far-reaching state-sponsored doping program, released shortly before this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, brought it to the forefront of public consciousness. We should take this as an opportunity to redouble our efforts to end this deeply unhealthy practice – and save elite sports.

Reaching an elite level in sports requires a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, and focus. By definition, few succeed, but those who do may enjoy great personal and financial rewards. Using performance-enhancing substances can seem like an easy way to boost one’s chances of reaching – or remaining at – that top level.

Doping in sports has most likely been going on for centuries. But the successful isolation of androgenic anabolic steroids brought a surge in the practice in the 1930s. The effects on performance can be seen in the extraordinary results of East German athletes in the 1970s and 1980s, some of whose records have yet to be broken. But the drawbacks of anabolic steroids were no less obvious: those same athletes often experienced infertility, cardiovascular problems, tumors, and other adverse effects.

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