Doping In Sport by definitions

Sport at its highest level is a celebration of human potential, a showcase of discipline, perseverance, and fair competition. Doping does not fit into that image.

In the center of the work being done to keep sport clean is the World Anti-Doping Code and the International Standard Prohibited List. There are three criteria for a substance of method to be added to the Prohibited list: 

  • It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance;
  • It represents an actual or potential health risk to the Athlete;
  • It violates the spirit of sport

Doping, the use of prohibited substances or methods to enhance athletic performance, stands as a persistent challenge to the integrity of sports. To maintain a level playing field, international sports organizations have established a Prohibited List, a comprehensive catalog of banned substances and methods.

Performance Enhancement

The primary criterion for inclusion on the Prohibited List is the potential for performance enhancement.

The quest for a competitive edge has driven athletes to explore every avenue, legal or not, to enhance their performance. From anabolic steroids to blood doping, the range of substances and methods employed is vast. These enhancements can lead to improved strength, endurance, and overall athletic prowess. However, the cost of this pursuit can be high, not just for the athletes, but for the integrity of the sports they engage in.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and other international sports bodies continuously monitor scientific advancements to identify emerging substances or techniques with performance-enhancing properties.

Athletes may argue that the pressure to succeed, coupled with the allure of fame and fortune, fuels the temptation to turn to performance-enhancing substances. In the quest for glory, some may succumb to the lure of quick fixes, risking their careers and also their own health.

Risk to Athlete Health

The second criterion guiding the Prohibited List centers on the potential health risks associated with banned substances or methods.

Anti-doping programs seek to protect the health of Athletes and to provide the opportunity for Athletes to pursue human excellence without the Use of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods.

The use of certain substances, even if they offer short-term performance gains, may pose serious health threats in the long run. The well-being of athletes is a paramount concern for sports organizations, and the Prohibited List reflects a commitment to preserving the physical and mental health of those engaged in competitive sports.

Not that many years ago, WADA issued a severe warning regarding GW1516 that was being pulled from development by a well-known medical company. In the warning WADA writes that “due to research in animals suggesting GW1516 causes rapid development of cancer in organs”. Such organs could be the liver, stomach and ovaries.

Another notable example of this criterion in action is the prohibition of blood doping. This method involves the infusion of additional red blood cells or the use of substances that stimulate the production of red blood cells, aiming to enhance oxygen-carrying capacity and, consequently, endurance. While blood doping can temporarily boost performance, it also elevates the risk of cardiovascular complications, potentially jeopardizing an athlete's health.

Violating the Spirit of Sport

The third and perhaps most elusive criterion guiding the inclusion of substances or methods on the Prohibited List pertains to their potential to violate the spirit of sport.

The definition of spirit of sport has been defined in the World Anti-Doping Code. Here it says:

“Anti-doping programs are founded on the intrinsic value of sport. This intrinsic value is often referred to as “the spirit of sport”: the ethical pursuit of human excellence through the dedicated perfection of each Athlete’s natural talents.

Anti-Doping programs seeks to maintain the integrity of sport in terms of respect for rules, other competitors, fair competition, a level playing field, and the value of clean sport to the world.

The spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind. It is the essence of Olympism and is reflected in the values we find in and through sport, including: 

  • Health,
  • Ethics, fair play and honesty
  • Athletes’ rights as set forth in the Code
  • Excellence in performance
  • Character and Education
  • Fun and joy
  • Teamwork
  • Dedication and commitment
  • Respect for rules and laws
  • Respect for self and other Participants
  • Courage
  • Community and solidarity

The spirit of sport is expressed in how we play true. Doping is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of sport.”


The Prohibited List:

WADA Warning on GW 1516:

The World Anti-Doping Code:



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