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Combating doping in Sports


Doping threatens to undermine the ethos of fairness that underpins sport. As a result, governments and international organizations have established a framework to limit, discourage, and sanction doping in sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) aims to promote drug-free sports by introducing and implementing standardized regulations under the World Anti-Doping Code, 2021. (The Code). National governments must work together to approve the Code's provisions in accordance with their unique constitutional requirements in order for the Code to be implemented. WADA has admitted that ensuring signatories' adherence to the Code and that "all countries follow the same set of standards and implement compliant anti-doping programmes" is a "core pillar" of its mandate. WADA claims that uniform compliance by all signatories is essential for the anti-doping system because "harmonization implies that athletes know what to expect from the anti-doping system regardless of where they are from or where they are participating."

Despite the fact that the majority of national governments and international sports federations have already ratified the Code, each country has had a unique anti-doping experience. To date, the majority of research on the effectiveness of anti-doping policy implementation has focused on wealthy nations such as the United Kingdom. Scholars have argued, however, that the current framework unfairly disadvantages athletes from developing countries; as a result, any comprehensive discussion on the effectiveness of anti-doping system harmonization should take into account the Code's implementation in such countries. On the effects of the Code's adoption in developing and emerging nations, little research has been done.

Doping and its history

Understanding what doping is at the onset is crucial. Doping is the practice of administering medications to a human or an animal to alter their performance during a competition. In an English dictionary for the first time in 1889, the word "doping" was used. At first, it was used to refer to a mixture of drugs that included opium and were administered to horses to "dope" them. Dope was a spirit made from leftover grapes that Zulu warriors supposedly named "doop" in Afrikaans or Dutch and used as a "stimulant" during battles and religious rituals. Later, the term "dope" came to refer more broadly to various energizing alcoholic beverages. Around 1900, the phrase was first used in English Turf Sport to refer to the illicit doping of racehorses. The first instances of doping in sport can be traced back to the Ancient Olympics, where it is said that athletes used figs to boost their performance. When modern pharmacology was developed in the 19th century, many athletes started experimenting with medication combinations to increase power and combat weariness. Doping can be defined as a chemical that boosts your energy level, which can improve your athletic performance.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

WADA was founded on November 10, 1998, in the aftermath of a major doping scandal that rocked the cycling community. The primary goals of WADA are to protect athletes, advance the ideals of ethical competition, and preserve international sports culture. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) established WADA with the assistance and participation of governments, public authorities, and other public and private anti-doping organizations. Members of the athletic community and governments from all over the world are still involved with and support the Agency. WADA is a key player in the policy regime. In February 1999, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosted the First World Conference on Doping in Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland. As a result, all parties involved in the anti-doping campaign came together. The Lausanne Declaration on Doping in Sport was issued as a result of the conference, and it called for the establishment of a separate global anti-doping agency in time for the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia, in 2000. Throughout the Olympics, athletes can be tested at any time or in any location. Employees with anti-doping control training and accreditation collect urine or blood samples to be tested for the presence of anti-doping agents. Similarly, National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs), International Federations, and Major Event Originations could collect samples for this purpose (MEOs).

Banned Drugs

1. Prohibited substances and practices are always prohibited (in and out of competition)

A. Steroids anabolic androgenic

B. Growth hormones, peptide hormones, and other substances

C. Beta-2 agonists;

D. Anti-estrogenic substances;

E. Diuretics and other masked substances; and

F. Oxygen transport improvement

G. Experimentation in physics and chemistry

H. Genetic manipulation

2. Prohibited items and practices during competition.

All of the subcategories listed in Section I, as well as

A. Stimulants

B. Narcotics

C. Cannabinoids are included.

3. Corticosteroid medications

4. Alcohol and beta blockers are two prohibited substances in some sports.

*for detailed and updated list please refer list on WADA’s website.

Causes of Doping

Doping was done for the best outcome as well as for money and attention, according to the findings of numerous investigations. Friends, instructors, sponsors, or immediate family may occasionally encourage them in this endeavour. Similarly, an athlete's attitude toward doping is influenced by the socio cultural context in which they compete and live. Even within the same sport and context, different genders have different perspectives on doping. In other cases, a lack of understanding of athletes', coaches', and mentors' accounts is a major issue when it comes to doping, especially at the grassroots level. This ignorance plays a significant role in the positive doping results.

Lack of Strong Governance Framework: In addition to the many factors that encourage doping in, the weak governance framework and political influence play a significant role in the nation's inability to address the issue. When incidents like this occur, different levels of sports authorities and governing bodies frequently disregard them since the best performances by the specific athlete are expected by these bodies for better sponsorship and investment in that particular sport.

Lack of Public Debate: Games are viewed as a form of entertainment, and their operation is not taken seriously. When athletes are captured, there is no ongoing national discussion, and because there is no ongoing public discussion, there is little pressure on sports administrators to create a successful anti-doping policy. If the public is aware of the doping problem and puts pressure on the authorities, they will undoubtedly enact new laws and methods to address it.

Combating Doping in Sports: It is critical to reduce the doping threat domestically so that sports can maintain their pride in their reputation. The first and most important step must therefore be to implement anti-doping education programmes for athletes, coaches, and support staff. Something must be implemented at the local level in order to be effective and inclusive. Coaches should receive special training in order to promote the sporting ideals of integrity and fair play among the athletes they have coached. WADA provides such anti-doping online training to both coaches and athletes. To achieve this goal, such training should be made mandatory for participation in any sporting event; this is a concept worth considering. The majorities of athletes in Western countries have already participated in anti-doping processes and see anti-doping education as a useful tool. Above all, local sports federations and organizations must be in charge of drug monitoring and eradication. This could be a more effective strategy for improved administration in carrying out national anti-doping strategies.

Current challenges of anti-doping education

Recent research findings in the social and behavioral sciences have emphasized the psychological mechanisms and processes that underlie the decision-making process connected with doping as well as the elements that would operate as safeguards to avoid doping. Customized anti-doping teaching interventions can be informed by, designed with, and evaluated using this data. Global authorities and stakeholders in sport, such as WADA, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) have emphasized the need of using empirical findings from the social and behavioral sciences in concerted and systematic efforts to educate young athletes against doping usage.

The current challenges in anti-doping education are the development of contemporary instructional materials appropriate for the next generation of athletes, the use of cutting-edge learning teaching methods that will facilitate effective engagement, learning, and retention of the material learned, a thorough assessment of the effects of anti-doping educational interventions on behavior and related cognition, and a proactive approach to doping prevention. Project GAME aims to meet these demands by developing a serious game that incorporates the most recent empirical data on the psychological mechanisms guiding the decision to dope in both competitive and recreational sports.

Because anti-doping education is still in its early stages, there are a number of requirements that must be met in terms of programme design, implementation, and evaluation. The foundation of anti-doping teaching should be modern learning methodologies that promote successful engagement, learning, and retention of the material. Current anti-doping interventions (e.g., Barkoukis et al., 2016; Lucidi et al., 2018) are ostensibly educational but were not developed using classroom learning strategies. Instead, they have adopted a traditional, lecture-like, one-way communication approach in which the "learner" has little involvement in the learning process and is simply expected to interact with the learning material independently and subsequently change his or her mindset.

Grassroots awareness

By lowering the risk variables and enhancing the protective factors against doping, anti-doping education aims to alter intentions and behaviors towards doping.

As a result, a mechanism must be in place to evaluate how well anti-doping educational initiatives achieve their objectives with regard to the various facets of behavior change. Effective behavior change in the behavioral and health sciences is characterized by modifications in three key areas:

· Beliefs about the behavior (e.g., perceived health risks of doping use),

· Intentions to change the behavior (e.g., intentions to avoid doping use; intentions to become or remain "clean" from PAES use), and

· Actual behavior change (e.g., modifications in doping-related behaviors, such as abuse or misuse of nutritional supplements or other ergogenic drugs that are not legal).

The evaluation of available E-learning platforms and selection of the best one for the anti-doping grassroots awareness piece is the first stage in developing serious grassroots awareness about doping. Developing a concept design for such grassroots awareness that illustrated the key structural principle is the second phase. According to the design, each participant would take part in routine situations that evaluate and enhance their individual talents, such as decision-making abilities, and enable them to self-regulate. The third stage of the grassroots awareness is using flowcharts and mockup tools to establish a common understanding among its participants. More specifically, in order to illustrate their educational situations and decide the game flow, user feedback, prizes, badges, and scoring system, psychologists and anti-doping education professionals employ flowcharts.


There are no known anti-doping educational interventions that promote a positive approach to doping prevention, such as developing a drug-free performance enhancement culture and a "clean sport" identity, with the exception of WADA's ALPHA (which is the only known contemporary anti-doping educational resource that explicitly promotes clean sports mentality). Furthermore, ALPHA primarily targets a small group of elite athletes who will independently seek information primarily about doping control procedures on WADA's website - this does not represent the larger population of athletes in grassroots and amateur sports who are at risk of doping but currently lack educational provisions and resources to avoid doping. Modern learning and teaching techniques must be incorporated into anti-doping education for it to be successful.. It is anticipated that grassroots awareness will offer stakeholders a reliable instrument for advancing anti-doping education in young athletes and exercisers, as well as lay the groundwork for the future.

Article written by Akshay Singh Rawat.

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