The Sense and Nonsense of Doping, by Fred Bijster

By Fred Bijster

Of course we all know that doping has been used for as long as we can remember. For instance in South America the natives were (and still are) chewing coca-leaves to give them extra stamina. Nobody thought anything about it.

The big change in the perception in our modern world came around 1967. During the Tour de France on the Mont Ventoux, the British biker Tommy Simpson, climbing the mountain and fell off his bike. “Put me on my bike” probably were his last words. A few moments later he was dead.

Research showed he had been using amphetamines and he was so much drugged that he didn’t realize he was crossing the borders of his physical possibilities.

“Never again” was the general reaction. And thus rules were set up to ban the use of doping in our society. Especially in sports. Nowadays we have a list of hundreds of forbidden ingredients. And an annual investment of millions of dollars to trace them.

And, of course, at least as much money to develop new drugs that are difficult to trace. Another amount, just as high, to do the checkings on actual use. Too high according to some.

The black market florishes in the mean time: it offers new and unknown drugs at high prices. Nobody knows how much money is involved there.

When does it make sense to use drugs and when would it be better to look for other options?

The use of drugs in some sports is very easy to understand: sports where speed, power, endurance are prominent are good examples (athletics, biking, etc) to create positive effects on the results. Other sports where insight, coordination, artistry and finesse are more prominent will not lend themselves for the use of drugs to create a positive result. It would be hard to find a suitable drug for the latter.

And for whom would it make sense?

The average sportsman has no need of it at all. The result of using drugs would be marginal and sometimes even negative. The dangers of using drugs are bigger than the possible benefits. Damage for life or even life itself by using it in the wrong way and without professional help.

Much more can be gained by spending time to increase the skills, losing a few kilo’s, improve on the equipment and train your own natural body. To become one of the few that might benefit: the top sportsman.

Most of the time with top sporters there is enough money around to take care of intensive medical control to advise on what to use and limit the risks.

But how much is there to gain?

For an athlete in absolute top condition not too much actually. One-tenth of a second? An inch?

Nowadays all sorts of human activities have developed to a level where the actual physical limitations are reached. Asking more of your body is only asking for trouble: muscles would tear apart. bones would break. As happens every day! The positive effects of doping are largely overestimated. A lot seems to be no more than a placebo-effect. Only few drugs have proven themselves to work; many have no proven record.

What has been proved however is that both short and long term effects of the use of drugs on health are negative. Up to very negative.

Most sports are nearly or completely free of drugs. Most athletes in these sports that are not free of it don’t use it. All in all a very costly operation to control and try to erase the very limited use of drugs.

The focus lies understandibly on use in sports, yet the fight against drugs is a fight of our society: drugs are not socially acceptable anymore.

Also, according to some, the longterm damage of the use of drugs makes it more than worthwhile to spend the millions. It also explains why some drugs are on the list (for example morphine) that certainly will not improve the sporting results!

In dancing the use of drugs would probably be of no help at all, unless you only dance to be faster and jump higher.

It will be very difficult in the first place to find a drug that would enhance quality, artistry and finesse!

So dancers should stick to focus on improving their technical skills, physical fitness, the right mental approach and the best possible material. That surely will always be a succesfull strategy and saves a lot of money!

Fred Bijster.

 
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