RUSSIA has finally been handed a 4-year ban from all major sporting events by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).

In competitive sports, doping is the use of banned PED’s (performance-enhancing drugs) by athletic competitors. The use of drugs to enhance performance is considered unethical and therefore prohibited, by most international sports organisations, including the International Olympic Committee. As a result, athletes or athletic programs taking these explicit measures to evade detection are perceived as cheating and being deceptive, leading to financial damage or competition bans.

The origins of doping in sports go back to the creation of sport and its first formal, recorded event during the 776 BCE Olympic Games held in Olympia. The ancient usage of substances has been traced in chariot racing where it had become a huge part of their culture. Athletes drank herbal infusions to strengthen them before chariot races. Nowadays PED’s are taken in a huge variety of sports with the prizes and status that they offer overpowering the potentially harmful implications to athletes health. 


Reasons, why athletes take PED’s, can be split into social and psychological categories. Social reasons include; the pressure of communities and nations expectations (which directly relates to why a lot of Russian athletes were doping), through the belief that their competitors are taking drugs and through the obvious rewards that winning brings. Psychological reasons include; the effect that the drugs have on the performer's psychological state, whether that's through beta-blockers which help to decrease anxiety and steady the nerves or through anabolic steroids which increase arousal and aggressive tendencies (used in boxing or weight lifting). 

However, alongside the ‘positives’ of doping in sport, comes the negatives and the life-threatening side effects. For example, rEPO can cause strokes and blood clots from increased blood viscosity. Anabolic steroids can cause liver damage and heart complications. It is clear that athletes in modern-day society risk everything (even death) to win. 


Doping in Russian sports has been a prominent feature of their sporting history with their 1980 Moscow Olympic Games being nicknamed the ‘Chemists Games’ due to the suspicion of the use of PED’s by Russian athletes. 

I recently watched a film called ‘Icarus’ which captured the reality of doping through Brian Fogel’s exploration of taking PED’s to win an amateur cycling race with the help of Russian scientist Grigory Rodchenkov (the head of the Russian anti-doping laboratory). Rodchenkov created a plan for Fogel to take banned PED’s in a way that will evade detection from drug-testing, helping Fogel's experiment to prove that the current way athletes are tested for drugs is insufficient. As Fogel continued his training, Rodchenkov eventually reveals that Russia has a state-sponsored Olympic doping program that he oversees. When allegations emerged in the international media over the possible existence of such a program, Fogel aided Rodchenkov's in voicing his knowledge of the doping program, alleging that Russia had conspired to cheat in the Olympics for decades and that he had been hired to ramp up the operation after the Russian team's embarrassing performance in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I was most fascinated by how Rodchenvok and his team (with the help of the FSS -  Federal Security Service) switched steroid-tainted urine of the Russian national team with clean samples, evading positive detection during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He provided spreadsheets, discs, e-mails, and more incriminating evidence of Russian involvement, forcing the WADA and the International Olympic Committee to investigate. After WADA's independent investigation - the McLaren Report - had confirmed Rodchenkov's claims, the country was banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games (unless they could prove they were untainted by doping scandals which meant they could compete under a neutral flag) and in athletics. 


Ever since the ‘whistleblower’ (Rodchenkov) uncovered the truth behind Russia and its doping violations there has been talk around the subject debating its credibility and if so the consequences that the athletes should receive. 

However, on the 9th of December, Russia finally held up their hands in defeat, succumbing to their acts of deception.