The Olympic arena is a place where great men and women come to show their great talent is sports. The most unfortunate thing is that in all this greatness lies a weakness. Doping has seen many athletes lose their respect and even worse ended their career. The main question is, why would an athlete risk it all, why would they dope?
it’s been a tough month for dopers—in all sports. Last week, Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 200 games based on “non-analytic” evidence of doping, as part of the “Biogenesis” scandal in south Florida. His suspension is the longest doping suspension in major league history.
It follows on the heels of continued suspicion about the dominating win of Chris Froome at the Tour de France and the suspension last month of three top sprinters (including Tyson Gay). Like Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones, Rodriguez “passed” any number of drug tests. And while Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell eventually tested positive, they both claim they were given adulterated supplements.
How can we explain the behavior of professional athletes? If anti-doping agencies are catching the big names, why do athletes continue to dope?
The answer may be found in game theory, a discipline that uses models of decision making to understand the actions of people under varying circumstances. Central to the theory is the idea that “players” use strategies and make choice to achieve their optimal outcomes.
Game theory can be used to study all sorts of behavior, and as the Economist highlighted several weeks ago, these same principles can be applied to sport. Athletes are in a game with one another—with each player vying to earn the highest salary and best result. If testing and enforcement are lax, the risk of getting beat by a doper can be larger than the risk of getting caught. In other words, doping becomes the optimal strategy for winning the money game.
There are those sports men and women who dope intentionally but there are also cases of those who doped accidentally. They ate or drank something with a banned substance. For those who suffered an injury, they could be on prescription drugs which contain banned substances.
Considering this broad set of circumstances, there is a wide range of drugs that may be taken by athletes. This article will examine the more commonly used classes of these drugs. Particular reference will be made to those drugs that appear on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List of Substances and Methods1, since deliberate or inadvertent use of such prohibited drugs carries significant consequences for athletes.
THERAPEUTIC USE OF DRUGS FOR THE TREATMENT OF MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Athletes are generally in peak physical condition. However, some athletes may have long-term conditions, such as asthma, that require medical intervention. Additionally, athletes, like any member of the general population, are not immune to short-term conditions such as coughs and colds. Drug treatment for any of these conditions requires vigilance in relation to athletes.
It could be pressure, it could be greed. All in all there must be a reason why athletes are pushed to the point of cheating their way through the sport. The worst reason is them thinking that they can never be caught.
Pound believes there are five main reasons why athletes resort to performance-enhancing drugs — considered by most sports fans to be the worst form of cheating.
“There are reasons but then there are also excuses,” he told CNN.
“1. A desire to win at all costs — even if that means lying.
- For financial reasons — with professionals trying to extend a career.
- National pressures — as exemplified by the old East German system.
- Individual pressure from coaches — who get paid better if they coach winners, and that can apply for administrations too.
- Finally, they dope because they believe they will not get caught — they believe they are invincible.”