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History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports: Analytical Essay

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Performance Enhancing Drugs


Performance-enhancing drugs have been used since the Greek Olympic games around 776-393 BC. Some forms of drugs that athletes would use included herbal mixes, wine potions, and hallucinogens (History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports). According to a timeline Roman gladiators used stimulants and hallucinogens to prevent fatigue and injury (History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports). The gladiators would use these drugs during chariot races to make their horses faster. The gladiators themselves would also take hallucinogens and stimulants such as strychnine to stave off fatigue and injury to improve the intensity of their fights.

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Late 19th Century.

In a timeline of performance-enhancing drugs, it states, “The modern applications of a drug is n sports began in the late nineteen century, with preparations made from the coca leaf — the source of cocaine and related alkaloids”(History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports). As performance-enhancing drugs were getting more and more popular in the normal world, they began to reach more far-spread to anyone willing to take them. In the 1904 Olympics marathon runner, Thomas Hicks was using a mixture of brandy and strychnine and nearly died(History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports). By no means are any form of drug good for you, therefore Hicks almost died by mixing drugs to increase his odds of winning in the 1904 Olympics. In 1928 there was a breakthrough of the first rule against doping in sports. The International Association of Athletics Federation was the first governing body to prohibit doping by athletes. In 1940 to 1945 Nazis were testing steroids on prisoners and Hitler himself. In 1945 to 1947 anabolic steroids were used to help reverse wasting effects of war and concentration-camp imprisonment (Si Staff). In 1954 the U.S.S.R. began dominating the sport of powerlifting. The doctor of the Soviet team allegedly revealed that the team had been using testosterone to beat the U.S. team. The doctor of the U.S. team began working on creating a refined synthesis technique that would cut all of the side effects of the current technique of synthesizing testosterone. Ziegler makes a new anabolic steroid that is named Dianabol. In 1958 the FDA approved the first anabolic steroid. The International Olympic Committee began drug testing athletes for the Olympics started. The normal people in society read a magazine published by Sports Illustrated that exposed athletes that took tranquilizers, cocaine, and other drugs in elite sports. This magazine sparked a fire for Sports Illustrated, as they produced a three-part investigation about performance-enhancing drugs in sports in 1969. As more and more athletes and bodybuilders began using drugs to increase their performance in their field, organizations began catching them by performing drug tests on them to punish them for using them. The anti-doping regime started to gain its current form in the 1970s. According to an article by Harvard, “In 1971, the IOC Medical Commission released the first list of banned substances, which included stimulants and narcotic analgesics”( Performance Enhancing Drugs: History, Medical Effects & Policy (2006 Third Year Paper)). The most famous Olympic scandal was the positive test of Ben Johnson. He was one of the world’s fastest sprinters during that time. Canada favored him so much that he had earned the Order of Canada, which was Canada’s highest civilian award. In the 1988 Olympics, he had to face his rival, Carl Lewis. The end result was Johnson winning the gold medal with Carl with a silver medal. After the event had ended the post-race testing had tested positive for stanozolol, which was a powerful anabolic steroid. Johnson was stripped of his gold medal in which Carl had been given the gold medal. In the end, Canada established the Commission of Inquiry Into the Use of Drugs and Banned Practices to Increase Performance. Another scandal that occurred happened ten years later in 1998. The scandal involved Willy Voet during the Tour de France. Voet was arrested for possession of various illegal prescription drugs, including narcotics, erythropoietin, growth hormones, testosterone, and amphetamines.

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History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from
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