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Sports have become a very important aspect of healthy living, entertainment and a means of making a living. All athletes who are engaged in sports aim at winning hence the need to improve performance leads to doping. Doping which allows athletes to use performance enhancing substances in sports has been there for a long time. Many sports men and women have been taking performance – enhancing agents to enable them win victory (Woodland, pg. 8). For example, a cocktail of strychnine and alcohol was as early as the 1900s by athletes as a doping agent.

By 1960s, anti-doping control methods were introduced with the assistance of an academic pharmacist Arnold Beckett. Despite the fact that doping has adverse effects on the health of the athletes and undermines the spirit of fair competition, many athletes have continued to take performance enhancing agents (Lippi, Franchini, and Guidi, pg. 97). This has made it necessary for modern anti-doping methods to be developed to effectively combat doping. There are various reasons why athletics get involved in doping. This paper will evaluate the sociological aspect of doping in sports.

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Discussion There have been numerous calls from the public and the sport organizing authorities to protect sports from doping because it continues to undermine sports as an institution. Cases of doping in athletes have confirmed how doping increasingly becoming common in athletes is. For example, the televised death of Tommy Simpson, a British cyclist played an important role in putting anti-doping efforts into top gear. However, the challenge has been that new developments allow athletes to use new forms of doping substances that are not easily detected.

This has made it necessary for the sport organizing bodies to develop improved anti-doping methods to counter doping. The increasing media coverage on doping in sports and the sophistication of this practice has continued to increase public awareness about the issue. It is important to note that doping does not only occur in competition, but is also prevalent in school and amateur sports. Although initially doping was considered to be just a cheating problem, concerns about doping in the society emanated from the increasing cases of doping athletes in the modern society (O’Leary, pg. 12).

Sports organizations such as the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission have been very important in combating doping by banning various doping methods that are used by the athletes. In addition, the Olympic Movement Anti-doping Code banns the use of various substances such as narcotics, stimulants, diuretics, anabolic agents, mimetics and peptide hormones in athletes because they compromise their health and undermine fair competition. Blood doping is one of the most common methods of doping in sports. There are various reasons why athletes use performance enhancing substances.

They include the pressure to succeed or win the need to respond to stereotypes spread by the media, the athletic subculture, society’s positive attitude towards doping, the desire to boost self-esteem where psychological problems are linked to the body image and feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s body. Doping questions the moral values of athletes in sports because it promotes indiscipline and cheating . Many athletes have been pressured into engaging in doping to satisfy their desire to win or succeed in sports. For instance, the use of upstream and downstream doping is meant to boost an athlete’s body winning abilities.

While downstream doping is good because it assists athletes to recover biological and physiological balance, upstream doping has adverse effects on athletes’ health and sports. Success is very important in life and athletes who are passionate about their careers in sports desire to succeed in what they love doing. When athletes desire to succeed is so great that he/she is willing to get engaged in enhancing performance despite the negative impact of doping on health, doping becomes an easy option of maximizing the winning chances.

For example, athletes have turned into using various forms and methods of doping provided they boost their performance and are not easy to detect. The various forms of doping that are used by athletes include the use of food supplements, medications, alcohol and social drugs. The increasing popularity of sports and the benefits an athlete enjoys from winning has made it necessary for all the stakeholders in sports to devise new methods of protecting the sport institution from unfair competition and cheating. Various nations are expected to have sport-related organizations embark on anti-doping initiatives.

Doping has legal and health implications in athletes. However, the pressure to succeed that athletes experience motivates athletes to engage in doping (Waddington and Smith, pg. 36). There is no doubt that the universal desire by athletes to succeed by improving their performance has driven them to use performance enhancing substances, whether it comprises their health in future or not. Furthermore, athletes engage in doping as a result of the pressure to succeed or win that may be generated by the coaches or parents.

This pressure may emanate from the high expectations of a parent or coach for one to win. Some athletes feel that they need to please their coaches or parents by winning and this makes victory to be an expression of the success of a coach. Some cases of doping in athletes even have coaches involved or do little about discouraging an athlete from doping. Because doping improves an athletics performance, it increases ones possibility of winning. Stress can have both negative and positive impact on an athlete and the pressure to finish at the top makes athletes vulnerable to doping.

For instance, athletes such as Barry Bonds and Ben Johnson have proved that elite athletes can succumb to doping due to the pressure put on them to be at the top of the game. Whenever an individual is seeking for excellence, the pressure to succeed is often great. Furthermore, the desire to beat a rival or a competitor who has been dominating sports provides great satisfaction to the athletes. Sometimes the individual pressure to succeed emanates form the coaches, parents and peers.

Coaches and parents to some extent benefit from the success of an athlete hence the pressure to win puts stress on athletics who focus more on winning rather than engaging in fair competition and having fun. The fame, glory and recognition that come along with a title are a great motivation for athletes to dope. Research studies show that cases of doping in sports have been increasing due to the development of new doping methods and substances. In the contemporary society, sports are creating celebrities who enjoy great attention from the public.

A good example is the Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt who is currently enjoying great attention from the public and the media as the World’s fastest man. This kind of fame and glory is very important for some athletes who may opt to dope in order to enjoy great publicity and fame. For example, individuals who hold world titles in various sports become famous and receive attention from the fans. As a result, some athletes use performance enhancing substances due to their desire to secure victory in order to enjoy the fame and popularity that comes along with a title.

Because the issue of doping is multifaceted and is encouraged by various social factors, the stiff competition for top world titles among athletes has continued to pressure athletes into doping. Athletes’ desire for recognition and fame contribute to doping when athletes use performance enhancing substances to win the fame and glory of success (Lippi, Franchini, and Guidi, pg. 102). To some, the benefits of winning justify the legal and health risks that they athletes may experience when they take the drugs.

A positive change in the society towards doping has encouraged doping in athletes. For example, the use of substances or drugs to improve performance whether in sports, work or sexual performance has been embraced in the modern society. As a result, doping which enhances performance in sports is not condemned. Many athletes derive pleasure from the acknowledgement they receive from the society about their excellent performance (O’Leary, pg. 32). Because athletes may want to please to coach and the parents by winning, they turn to doping.

Advancement in technology has made research work to identify new ways and methods of doing things to be developed. For athletes who are convinced that enhancing performance is worth putting life at risk through doping get trapped in it. The reluctance by coaches or trainers to discourage athletes from doping contributes to the increasing cases of doping. It is easy for coaches to detect when athletes are using performance enhancing substances because most athletes who are engaged in doping show weight gain strength gain and erratic behavior.

Coaches who support doping or make little efforts to discourage it have positive attitude towards what others may consider as a “vice”. For the young athletes who use drugs, they are likely to be pressured into doping. In the modern society, high school sports have become a good ground for young people to impress others through sports. For teenagers and adolescents who are risk takers, the pressure to succeed easily drives them to doping. For example, Britain’s anti-doping officials have expressed their concerns about the use of substances to enhance performance during the 2012 Olympic Games.

They have therefore recommended effective anti-doping methods to be put into place. The athletic subculture contributes to doping in athletes. The media has played a major role in creating the perfect image of an athlete. The need for an athlete to fit into the image created by the media encourages doping. The media increased focus on the issue of doping has attracted the attention of many athletics and the social change enhanced by the media promotes the popularity of certain sports.

The expansion of sports coverage on sports creates an expression or image of what being a good athlete entails. Research studies have shown that the media plays a critical role in how athletes view their bodies. For example, perfect athletes are considered to be those who win and break the world records. As a result, some athletes engage in doping in order to get the media coverage of a “perfect athlete” and a world record as well. Many media houses are interested in broadcasting on the world’s top athletes hence the world record holding athletes enjoy popularity and fame.

The need to fit into the image of an athlete created by the media and to enjoy popularity as one of the worlds’ best athletes drive athletes to doping (Ozdemi,pg. 250). Many media houses are now investing in sports in order to benefit from the fame of some athletes in sports. For instance, testosterone is very popular in doping because it boosts an athlete performance and builds muscles. The “doping epidemic” has been increasing over the years, increasing pressure on the young and the upcoming athletes to use performance enhancing drugs.

For example the promotion of the use of testosterone drugs has promoted the use of performance enhancing substances in sports. Doping has become a subculture in sports where athletes are taking drugs to improve performance. Because of the legitimization of the use of some drugs on the society for some purposes, doping has been witnessed in certain athletic subscribers. For instance, the need to stage more productive competition makes many professional cyclists, weigh-lifters and short-putters to be engaged in doping.

When people feel obligated to dope themselves for professional purposes, the use of performance enhancing drugs is witnessed in a culture that accepts the application of pharmacological solutions to human problems and the need for increased productivity. Conclusion In the contemporary society, sports have become a very important element of entertainment, keeping healthy and earning a living. The number of athletes testing positive for anti-doping control test has been increasing. Although sports have been there for thousands of years in many societies, they have become very popular with the people.

The financial benefits, fame, glory and pride derived from sports by athletes have contributed to their increased desire to win. This has led to the use of performance enhancing substances, also referred to as doping. Efforts to combat doping in sports have been characterized by the publication of a list of banned drugs by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Over the years, various doping substances and methods have been developed to be used by athletes and sport-related organizations have a challenge to develop new anti-doping methods.

Works Cited

  • Lippi Giuseppe, Franchini, Massimo and Guidi,Giane . Doping in competition or doping in sport?. British Medical Bulletin 2008 86(1):95-107
  • O’Leary, John. Drugs and Doping in Sports – Socio-Legal Perspectives. Cavendish Publishing, 2001
  • Ozdemi,Levent et al. Doping and Performance Enhancing Drug use in Athletes living in Sivas, Mid-Anatolia: A brief report. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2005) 4, 248 – 252
  • Waddington, Ivan and Smith, Andy. An Introduction to Drugs in Sports; Addicted to Winning? Routledge, 2000
  • Woodland, Les. Dope, the use of drugs in Sport. UK: David and Charles, 1980

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