Why is Doping Still Taboo?

Why is Doping Still Taboo?

The simple fact of writing or saying the word « DOPING » seems to disturb all sport stakeholders, as harsh sanctions fall on the athletes overnight.


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A taboo… Obviously, the simple fact of writing or saying the word « DOPING » seems to disturb all sport stakeholders. The only time this word appears in capital letters, in bold, or even in colors is when an athlete is dismissed for “misconduct” and all the recognition he has gained is erased.  This mass media attitude goes a long way to explaining the stitched mouths of sports professionals.  So if we want peoples attitudes to advance one way or the other, we have to speak up!  Let’s examine the other reasons that make this practice a question that would be unseemly to mention under social or moral conventions.


Fear of punishment

The sanction or rather the sanctions, fall on the athletes overnight. They can be classified into two parts, one is the professional sanction and the other is the media sanction.  Both of these scare athletes. The first can only lead to the prohibition of competing in the sport in which they have dedicated their lives to from an early age, while losing their source of income (price, contract with sponsors, etc.).

The second affects their honor, their pride, and their fan adulation.  When the doped athlete is unveiled, all this recognition evaporates to leave room for insults, criticisms and judgments.  Previous stories like Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson renowned sprinter or the cyclist Lance Armstrong are examples that are present in the minds of all. One can easily understand that protagonists of the sport do not want to talk openly about doping, in order to avoid the risk of being ruined financially and morally by these sanctions!

Doped athletes: guilty, but are they the ones responsible?

The subject of doping also remains a taboo for a different reason. If a swimmer, an athlete or a footballer dopes, then we must ask why he does it.  And by examining this, we realize that these reasons could put the sports authorities in an awkward situation! By the end of the twentieth century, sports have metamorphosed and adapted to our economy by transforming themselves into commercial products that generate astronomical sums of money, exceeding our imagination. And like any financial product, you have to improve it, optimize it and constantly progress, replicating and setting new records for performance in the process.  On the other hand, we have the sponsors who represent in many cases the main source of income for sports, and they require champions to represent their brands. These are companies who put pressure on athletes to have the best results and give the impression of not having the right to fail. From this angle, we can imagine that if the doping mask rose, the people responsible would not be only the athletes.

Unusual stories, implausible excuses!

Like children caught cheating, some athletes and their entourage have implausible  excuses as first line of defense. This is a result of the taboo surrounding the subject. Athletes are not ready to admit having used banned products and they sometimes fall into the ridiculous to conceal the practice. Here are some pearls to laugh at of what scares athletes the most.

The three times winner of the Tour de France Alberto Contador hid behind a Spanish steak “full of clenbuterol ” to justify the presence of this banned product in his metabolism.

In Lausanne in 2007, the Russian rowing team was caught with syringes they disposed in a recycling bin.

At the London Olympics, the American athlete LaShawn Merritt was confided to have ingested DHEA in order to enlarge his penis.


Regardless, our position towards doping, it is the duty of every professional athlete to break down these barriers. As with all subjects for debate, free speech facilitates discussion and progress. So that sports practice can become a pleasure and a moment of equitable sharing at all levels and not a risk to the participants. To break the taboo, athletes, their staff, and the federations have an important role to play.

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