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From Inhalers to Gene Modification: What Exactly Is Athletics Doping?

Rob Murray
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Rob Murray

Rob is a self confessed running geek, obsessed with all things related to the sport, whether road, track or triathlon.
Rob Murray
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The head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was quoted this week as saying that global athletics is in a crisis at the moment, in terms of doping. World athletics chief Lamine Diack told the BBC, “it’s a difficult crisis but we will put it behind us by cleaning all this.”

British 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, who herself was banned for one year after failing to turn up to three tests, responded by saying, “I think that kind of sentiment is uncalled for. Even if he felt that way personally he should have kept that private.”

But What is Doping?

Most people will have heard of steroids. These things that cheats ingest or inject to increase muscle mass… But there’s a whole murky world of doping out there, where the lines between legal supplements and illegal chemicals become blurred. As a professional athlete, it’s a path to tread incredibly carefully – even an asthma inhaler could induce a ban if the wrong quantity of Salbutamol was found in your blood.

And it’s not just ‘taking something’ that can get you in trouble. Gene replacement and manipulation of an athletes blood are also banned.

Here is the full, up-to-date list of prohibited doping methods, as per the 2015 code authored by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Don’t be the next Ben Johnson.

Substances and Method Prohibited at All Times In Athletics

1. Anabolic Agents

2. Peptide Hormones and Growth Factors

3. Beta-2 Agonists (this is the one that includes Salbutamol)

4. Hormone and Metabolic Regulators

5. Diuretics and Masking Agents

6. Manipulation of Blood and Blood Components

7. Chemical and Physical Manipulation

8. Gene Doping (including the use of genetically modified cells)

In-competition Banned Substances and Methods

1. Stimulants

2. Narcotics

3. Cannabinoids

4. Glucocorticoids

Prohibited in Particular Sports

1. Alcohol

2. Beta-Blockers

For a detailed breakdown, read the full list here

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Author: Rob Murray

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