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Athlete Drug Testing

Drug Testing

The issue of athlete drug testing can be found everywhere; from the largest Olympic stadium to the smallest high school football field, from college swimming pools to the Major Leagues. It's an issue of integrity, success, loss and failure, and it affects athletes across the board.

Athletes have been doping since ancient Greece , says the World Doping Agency, using diets and potions to help them get ahead. The 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis was won by Thomas Hicks, who relied on brandy, raw egg, and strychnine injections to get him through the race.

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Nowadays drugging in the world of sports is far more technological. As tests have advanced, so have the chemicals used to enhance performance. Anabolic steroids are the most popular drug available, as the testosterone will increase muscle mass and bone. Stimulants and amphetamines add endurance, diuretics aid in weight loss, EPOs increase oxygen in the blood, narcotics block pain, relaxants take the edge off, while inhibitors are necessary to mask all the other substances.

Major League Baseball is one area where steroid use is greatly debated and argued. With MVP Jose Conseco's and the late Ken Caminiti's public admittance of a history of abuse, many are pushing the MLB organization to implement a tighter athlete drug testing policy.

Meanwhile, the NFL randomly tests football players for steroid use, using punishment such as unpaid suspension to get their point across. The NBA and NCAA also test for prohibited drugs and banned substances. The NCAA maintains a strict athlete drug testing policy - Division I and II athletes are tested year-round, and tests are mandatory at all football bowl games and championships. Tobacco products are also banned for all players, officials and coaches during practice and competition. The NHL, on the other hand, does not, claiming steroids do not aid hockey players to the same extent as in other sports.

In the Olympics, athletes are tested before they are allowed to compete. This is regulated by the International Olympic Committee. Olympic athlete drug testing rose to the public eye in 1988, when sprinter Ben Johnson lost his gold medal after testing positive for anabolic steroids.

Cycling is another area where doping is highly controversial, especially the use of the oxygen-enhancing drug EPO. Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been accused repeatedly of using drugs, and has tested clean dozens of times. Armstrong was even involved in legal proceedings with Italian cyclist Filippo Simeoni over allegations of drug use.

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