When Sports and Drugs Meet

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The Relationship Between Sports and Drugs

Sports and drugs have a long and mostly tempestuous history. There have been stories of athletes achieving incredible performances after taking illegal drugs. But the punishment has not always seemed to fit the ‘crime’. This is especially the case when it comes to what are usually referred to as recreational drugs.

Sports authorities have rightly stamped down on cheating by taking anabolic steroids to increase training and muscle potential. Smoking cannabis isn’t likely to increase the chances of success, in our view – but has tended to attract the same kind of punishment.

Many weed-smoking athletes have lauded the healing properties and the way that it helps ease aching muscles and pain. Septemberbe the sporting authorities should be concentrating on cases like the following four instead.

Ben Johnson, Track and Field

This is one of the most famous stories of steroid taking – and one that highlighted the issue for many around the world. At the 1988 Summer Olympics, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the 100 metres final in a world record 9.79 seconds. But then he tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.

Johnson was forced to give up his gold medal, with Carl Lewis taking the honour in his place. This was one of the first times that the wider public was made aware of the extensive use of drugs in sport – and a recognition that it wasn’t just an Eastern European problem.

Diego Maradona, Soccer

Diego Maradona is regarded as one of the greatest ever soccer players. But his career is littered with controversial moments on and off the field of play. The Argentinian maestro had already been suspended in the early 1990s for cocaine use – but it was his drug use at the 1994 World Cup that made the headlines.

Maradona had previously been overweight and looked to be on his way out of the game. But he had slimmed down, and now he was ready to lead his country once more at the USA World Cup. But he tested positive for five different variants of ephedrine and was kicked out of the tournament.

Lance Armstrong, Cycling

After seven Tour de France wins, Lance Armstrong was considered one of the greatest ever in the history of the race and seen as an example of triumph over adversity. Not only had Armstrong been so successful in such a gruelling sport, but he had also overcome cancer.

But everything came crashing down in 2010 when Floyd Landis, a former teammate who had been involved in his own doping scandal, accused Armstrong of wrongdoing. It took two years of denial before the US Anti-Doping Agency charged the cyclist – and he finally confessed a year later.

performance-enhancing drugs and track and field
Figure 2 Most people associate performance-enhancing drugs with track and field

Marion Jones, Track and Field

At the turn of the century Marion Jones was one of the biggest sports stars on the planet. She was the face of track and field and was expected to win a haul of gold medals at the summer Olympics. The golden girl of athletics went on to win five in Sydney and everything seemed to be going perfectly.

But then, after some intense investigations, Jones admitted that she had used performance drugs in the past. She originally stated that she had not used drugs in Sydney, but that claim was refuted by her former athlete husband – also a drugs cheat – who said they had been using for years. Jones was stripped of her medals and even did some time for perjury.

Not All drugs are performance enhancing. Sports bodies still seem to lump cannabis and other recreational drugs in with more obvious performance-enhancing drugs. Until they change their policies in that department, more innocent athletes will be stripped of medals, awards, and livelihoods.

Last Updated on April 18, 2022 by Bud

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