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Banned Substances and Olympic Doping Consequences

When the best athletes in the world compete on a global stage with 4 billion people (projected for the 2012 summer games) watching, they look for every edge. After they have stretched their physical abilities to the limit, they may feel they need a little more where the difference between gold and silver can be 100th of a second. Some turn to drugs to obtain that extra boost.

In 1967, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned performance steroid use. To control doping (as it is called), the IOC developed a testing regimen. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) initiated mandatory drug testing in 1985. Drugs that are banned by the IOC and the USOC include:

  • Stimulants: Prescription illicit no-prescription Beta-2-agonists, Strychnine
  • Narcotics: All but codeine, dextromethorphan, dihydrocodeine, diphenoxylate, propoxyphene, tramadol
  • Anabolic Agents: Anabolic steroids Beta-2-agonists
  • Diuretics: All

Peptide hormones mimetics and analogues (and all releasing factors): HCG, growth hormone, insulin, erythropoietin, Gonadotropins, corticotropin and related substances

As an example of the way these work on the body, athletes use growth hormones (in the peptide hormone group) to increase height and muscle mass. These substances can also result in metabolic and endocrine disorders.

While the testing may stop many athletes from using, it has not caused complete abstinence. For example, in the 2010 Vancouver and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, 30 and 70 athletes respectively failed the doping tests.

The IOC mandates a no-tolerance policy so if they fail the test, they are immediately banned from competing. Plus, if the drug use is detected later, medals can be stripped away.

Here are three examples of Olympic athletes who have lost their medals because of banned substances.

Ben Johnson was an athlete who represented Canada in the 1984 and 1988 Games. He was a track and field athlete who had a long running competition with Carl Lewis. As they competed fiercely, Johnson won the gold at the 100m final run in 1988. However, three days later he failed his drug test. Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, was found in his urine. His medal was taken away and he was suspended from the sport.

Hans-Gunnar Lilhenwall of Sweden, a pentathelete, has the dubious distinction of being the first competitor to be disqualified for drug use after the 1967 ban. He was found to have alcohol in his body and admitted to having two beers to calm his nerves during the pistol shooting competition. The whole team had to return their medals according to the rules of the time.

Marion Jones of the US had very significant doping problems. She had to return medals from the 2000 Olympics after she admitted in October of 2007 that she took performance enhancing drugs going back to the 2000 Summer Olympics. She also lied about it to a grand jury.

The idea is of these drug testing programs is to promote a safe and fair competitive environment.  However, in a sports environment so competitive it is unlikely that Olympic athletes will cease using doping in the never-ending quest to gain a competitive edge.  Some of them may end up in treatment centers, which could save their life.  If someone you love has a drug problem and needs help, call the number at the top of your screen now for an immediate consultation from an expert at our Florida drug rehab center.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More