What Is Doping?
Firstly, doping is when an athlete takes drugs to further improve his/her performance.
What Is Anti-doping?
Anti-doping on the other hand is when an athlete or someone who belongs to the athletic personnel is opposed to the use of illegal substances which improve performance.
To respect the rules and understand equality.
Did you know that back in the ancient Olympic Games the winner competed to win the olive wreath or otherwise known as ‘’kotinos’’, which is just the branch of a wild olive tree (1)? The aim back then was to promote the fair play, “the standards of creation and virtue” (2) and to educate the youth (1). Globalized society has completely changed the meaning of winning and the real-ancient spirit of the Olympic Games. The modern society tends to develop individuals who want to win, gain fame and fortune at any cost (3, 4). This is the main reason why supplement consumption and doping have massively increased. Athletes -especially the young ones- are usually not aware of the supplement or drug use consequences. International Sports Federation worldwide and the Olympic Committee have tried to stop the spread of doping by promoting educational programmes and supportive medical treatment (3). Unfortunately, doping cases do not seem to be decreased (3).
Athletes are solely responsible for any drug found into their body system despite the fact that the responsibility should belong to all the people who get involved in a sport and do not promote anti-doping strategies.
If you are an athlete, assess the NEEDS, RISKS and CONSEQUENCES. If you are a parent, coach or you belong to athletic personnel, try to help by promoting anti-doping and fair play behaviours.
7 Check-Points You Can Take Now To Help You Remain A Clean Athlete:
No.1 A balanced diet should be top priority.
Have a variety of nutrient dense foods and try to cook your food from scratch. Consume a variety of wholefoods, fruits and vegetables and try to combine -in one meal- complex carbohydrates, lean protein and “good” fats. This way you will have complete meals and you will -most possibly- manage to get all the required vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs to function well (5). Having a balanced diet and sticking to it is the best thing you can do to further improve performance and at the same time maintain a good vitality (5). Moreover, this is what you need to do if you want your body to recover post-exercise and re-build muscle fibers.
The timing and eating the right meals-snacks before, during and after exercise, are very important too (5). A registered dietitian or nutritionist will be the person you should ask for help if you would like to have a balanced nutrition plan -based on your needs- and to further improve your dietary habits. The right combinations of carbohydrates, protein and fats depend on each individual’s needs as well as the sport he/she does (along with other factors) and can vary.
No.2 Keeping well hydrated is vital.
Water is one more of the macros that plays an important role and can affect dramatically athlete’s performance when the athlete is dehydrated (5) or over-hydrated (6). Try to keep well hydrated and maintain balanced body water levels, by consuming water or drinks like coconut water or with natural orange, lemon or lime flavor. Hydrate well before, during and after training or competition and use salt as a natural electrolyte whenever needed (5).
No.3 Consider if you really need to take a supplement or a substance.
Most of the athletes -especially professional ones- are always on search of finding new ways to improve their performance (3). They search for new diets, new training regimes and supplements that promise to enhance strength, velocity, endurance as well as decrease body fat percentage (3). Consider that supplements may:
- Contain illegal substances.
- Be contaminated.
- Not list an ingredient on the label list.
- Contain ingredients that have a different name on the label list than the ingredients on the prohibited list.
- Be a different product than what you purchased (especially if it was bought online).
No.4 Consider the consequences and the risks.
Athletes -depending on the case- can
- Be banned from competitions worldwide for 2 years, 4 years or a lifetime.
- Develop health issues. Usually doping medication has side effects to mental, psychological and body health.
- Be stigmatised for the rest of their life – social consequences.
- Become the ‘’wrong idol’’ for future athletes.
- Have financial consequences.
No.5 Check the WADA list.
Which substances are illegal? There are hundreds of known -and still unknown- doping substances. The WADA list of prohibited substances is updated every year and should be your first line of checking when purchasing a supplement product or a medication over the counter. It is always advisable to check with a nutritionist or another healthcare professional.
GlobalDRO can also be used by athletes, parents and coaches who want to check in case a medication contains an illegal substance. It is used to check medications which are sold in the UK, US, Switzerland, Japan, Australia and Canada. The right steps for athletes are:
- to check any medication, they take in the GlobalDRO
- keep the search reference number
- always inform the doctors or any other health professionals that they are athletes and they need to stick to and abide the antidoping rules.
No.6 If you really need to take a product, choose an InformedSport one.
InformedSport is a company that co-operates with supplement manufacturers and suppliers in order to batch-test supplements and check if they are contaminated or if they contain any illegal substances. That way they further protect athletes. Of course, as mentioned above, there is no 100% guarantee that a supplement won’t contain an illegal substance, but this is the safest way to take a supplement when the athlete really needs to.
No.7 Definitely avoid trying products that haven’t shown any benefits and are not evidence based.
Always search for evidence-based products and do not have a product, just because another athlete recommended it to you or just because you saw information about it online. A supplement can be added to your diet only if you have difficulty in receiving it from your food and only if it is based on scientific research that will be beneficial. Always consider the side effects that a supplement or a medication can have on your body.
Whether you are an athlete, a coach, a nutritionist or you belong to the athletic personnel, education is precious. Athletes should be educated in order to follow anti-doping strategies. They should learn to achieve their best ever performance while maintaining health. Health is wealth and should always be priority no1. Doping not only is cheating and negatively affects the athlete’s health, it also affects the non-doping athletes, the whole community and the whole world (4, 7). Thus, it should be banned.
The important thing in the games is not winning but taking part (3).
The essential thing is not conquering, but fighting well(3).
These are two quotes that you should remember and use for every aspect in your life along with the fact that health is the most precious gift and it’s on your hands to protect it.
- Papanikolaou, P. (2012). The spirit of the Olympics vs. Commercial Success: A critical examination of the strategic position of the Olympic movement. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2 (23), 1-5.
- Gialouris, N. (ed.), (1982). The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. Athens: Ekdotiki Athinon (in Greek).
- Baron, D. A., Martin, D. M. and Abol Magd, S. (2007). Doping in sports and its spread to at risk populations: an international review. Official Journal of the World Psychiatric Association, 6 (2), 118-123.
- Petroczi, A., Norman, P. and Brueckner, S. (2017). Can we better integrate the role of anti-doping in sports and society? A psychological approach to contemporary value-based prevention. Medicine and Sport Science, 62, 160-176.
- American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association, and Dieticians of Canada by Rodriguez, N. R., Di Marco, N. M. and Langley, S. (2009), Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 41(3), 701-731.
- Whitfield, A. H. N. (2006). Too much of a good thing? The danger of water intoxication in endurance sports. British Journal of General Practice, 56 (528), 542-545.
- Schneider, A., J. and Friedmann, T. (2006). The problem of doping in sports. ScienceDirect, (51), 1-9.
Anna-Maria Volanaki has a masters in sports nutrition and is registered with BDA and SENr. She is also a UK Anti Doping (UKAD) advisor as well as a practicing Hatha Yoga Teacher.