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Use of drugs in sports: How far can they be traced
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Simon Harris

 
By Simon Harris
Published on February 11, 2009
 
The act of taking a banned substance to improve performance in sport is referred to as doping. The term dope originated from South Africa where it was used to describe a primitive alcoholic drink that was used as a stimulant at ceremonial dances.

The act of taking a banned substance to improve performance in sport is referred to as doping. The term dope originated from South Africa where it was used to describe a primitive alcoholic drink that was used as a stimulant at ceremonial dances. Over time the term doping graduated to a sporting context where it is used to refer to the practice of athletes taking some form of performance enhancing drugs.The term doping first appeared in an English dictionary in 1879, however drugs in sport have a long history.

BC Period

Sport played a large role in society in BC. Around the period of 800BC, emphasis was placed on the artistic nature of sport, besides it being a preparatory method for the warriors of that time. However from 400BC sports received a new status whereby it was of similar priority, as in modern times, resulting in the demise of the amateur competitor. Professional sport ultimately led to corruption and cheating, with competitors willing to invest in any preparation which would lead to victory. In this period a method that was thought to lead to a higher level of sporting performance was consuming extracts of mushrooms and plant seeds.

Period
Through evolution from the BC Greek period to the Roman Empire period, the status of sport continued to develop. The use of drugs in this period was well recorded, chariot racers feed their horses a potent mixture to make them run faster, while many gladiators were doped up to make their fights sufficiently vigorous and bloody for the paying public to view.

Christian Period
During the Christian era sport played a small role in society with only sports such as boxing being offered as a substitute for the games of the Roman period. Seeing as sport did not have a high place in society in this period, drugs in sport was not an issue as there were no rewards for success.

The 19th Century
The 19th century once again saw rise in popularity of sports in society, therefore drugs in sport became more evident in this period as opposed to the Christian era. With the onset of the industrial revolution in the late 19th century there became increasing methods in both the development of sport and sports performance enhancement. By the turn of the century sport had developed a significant institution in its own right and to succeed in sport became highly valued. This placed pressure which has contributed to the escalation in drug taking in sport, as well as the number of drug related deaths in the sporting community.

Modern Times
In 1988 in Australia the national Senate Standing Committee began an inquiry into the use of drugs by Australian athletes. This enquiry led to the establishment of the Australian Drug Sports Agency (ASDA) in 1990.