There is no doubt that many athletes use performance enhancing drugs. Whether it be steroids, EPO or diuretics, the temptation to gain an advantage over competitors is great for athletes who depend on their sports for a living. In order to compete and win, athletes need to be at their peak. Taking drugs allows them to do this and keep their career going.
The problem is that these drugs have side effects and, once stopped, athletes will lose their muscle and power very quickly. These problems are why sport’s governing bodies try to set up level playing fields by testing for and punishing drug users. However, this seems to have done little to deter cheating. Indeed, it only takes a look at the list of former Tour de France winners who were caught cheating to realise that stiff penalties haven’t put an end to the practice of doping in professional sport.
It is also worth remembering that, while doping may harm the physical health of athletes, they already take huge health risks when playing their sport. Just think of the football player who runs into barbed wire or the athlete who falls off his bike and hits their head on the ground.
The answer may lie in changing the way that sport is played. For example, a system such as the ‘biological passport’ could be introduced which would allow testers to create a profile of each athlete’s natural levels of different substances. This will help to spot any abnormal spikes in performance which may indicate the use of PEDs.