Chances are - if you watch the news, you’ve heard of doping. In the past few years, Russian athletes in particular have been tarred with this particular brush and banned from competing in the games. But what is doping?
According to UNESCO:
'Doping' refers to an athlete's use of prohibited drugs or methods to improve training and sporting results. Steroids are the drugs that often come to mind when we talk about doping, but doping also includes an athlete's use of other forbidden drugs (such as stimulants, hormones, diuretics, narcotics and marijuana), use of forbidden methods(such as blood transfusions or gene doping), and even the refusal to take a drug test or an attempt to tamper with doping controls.
As you continue to participate in sport, doping is an issue that you will increasingly face: you could be tested for drugs; some of your competitors will be cheating by using drugs; you may even be tempted to do so yourself. (Source)
When athletes agree to compete in the Olympic or any kind of international-level games, they are subjecting themselves to the rules that the World Anti-Doping Agency stipulates. In this case, anabolic substances, peptide hormones, beta-2 agonists, metabolic modulators, and diuretics are prohibited. Usually at the beginning of and throughout the games, athletes are screened for these substances - and if detected, they are not allowed to compete.
The kind of reports that discuss doping have been rampant in the media as of late. In January 2018, Russia was again banned from the Paralympics in 2018 due to an “insufficient recovery from the doping scandal.” Not only does the International Paralympic Committee state that Russia does not cooperate with any kind of regulation, but that they also have also engaged in state-sponsored doping. In other words, the government of Russia supported cheating in the games. Systemic cheating has become the norm.
In the Olympic Games upcoming in Seoul, 169 Russian athletes have been given special dispensation to compete in the games. As for the Paralympics, Russian athletes that are cleared for participation may compete, but will so do as “Neutral Paralympics Athletes.” That means they will compete, but outside of their country and without the mention of ‘Russia’ in their title. The scandal takes on a drastic tone particularly in Russia, and amongst other countries who were furious at Russia for the country’s lack of morals.
But why does doping matter?
In international politics, as well as a variety of other interactions between countries, there is cheating. There’s no question that amongst diplomats - there is subterfuge and under the table deals. What makes sports different is that it exists as something apart from politics. It represents an opportunity for countries to put aside their political differences and come together. Doping is an attack upon the integrity that sports, for many countries, is a matter of national pride.
National athletes that compete in the Olympics are the cream of the crop that countries have to send. They represent the strength and endurance of each competitor, regardless of the level of interest any particular citizen has in sports. In other words, doping is more than simply cheating, it’s pulling the rug out from under the rightful winner - and doing so in the most immoral of tactics.
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