Testing Programs for Athletes

Unlike drug use in the general workplace, drugs have been used for thousands of years to enhance athletic performance, increase work endurance, recreate, and to self-medicate pain and psychopathology. Doping, the term used to describe the use of drugs to increase athletic performance, has been documented back to the ancient Greeks. Throughout history, the use of drugs to gain an advantage over one's competitors has been considered morally wrong and worthy of severe sanctions. Fair competition was, in theory, the keystone of competitive sports. In fact, the Creed of the Olympics states that the most important factors are taking part and giving one's best effort, not winning. Fighting well and honorably took precedence over conquering the opponent, thus separating sport from war (where all was fair). Cheaters disgraced not only themselves and their families but also the sport itself. Dopers in ancient times were stripped of their winnings and often ended up as slaves, attempting to pay back their debt to the sporting world. These drastic measures, including using victory awards from cheaters to build statues to honor the gods ringing the Olympic Stadium, were intended to deter drug use and other forms of cheating (e.g., casting spells on competitors) by producing a constant reminder to every athlete who entered the arena of the potential perils of attempting to gain an unfair advantage. Unfortunately, the spoils of victory and the cost of defeat, combined with an overwhelming drive to win at any cost, have kept doping a major issue in sports at every age and level of competition.

Despite the long history of drug abuse in sports and in the workplace, laboratory testing to detect drug use is a modern phenomenon. Only since 1967 has the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission banned certain drugs and tested for their use. Full-scale drug testing for doping by athletes began in the 1972 Munich Games. Since 1967, the number of banned substances has grown every year, and the sophistication of laboratory analysis and testing protocols has advanced.

Sports doping control is not federally regulated in the United States, as it is in Australia, but typically is closely monitored by the specific sports governing bodies. For example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) closely monitors the testing of collegiate athletes while the U.S. Anti-Doping

Agency (USADA) monitors and conducts all Olympic-related events in the United States. In sports testing, as in DFW programs, there are two types of testing: in-competition and out-of-competition programs. No advanced notice (NAN) out-of-competition testing is the preferred method of USADA and is reported by athletes themselves to be the best deterrent of drug use. As its name implies, this form of testing consists of approaching an athlete at any time, without prior notice, and obtaining a urine sample. Olympic caliber athletes must consent to participate in the program, which includes providing a personal log of their whereabouts at all times. Failure to comply leads to sanctions by the individual sport governing body (track and field, swimming, etc.).

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