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The ‘Doping Arms Race’: How Athletes Evade Testing

Senior Editor, TipsHire

Drugs on Athletes

Athletes have a tough job trying to stay away of drugs and all sort of substances, and they often try to escape the checking they have to undergo by trying to dope the system. In these circumstances, the officials had to be inventive and come up with new ways and solutions in order to be able to catch them. At a first glance, testing the athletes for doping seems like a difficult job, since there is not at least one test that can truly reveal if one of them has taken any suspicious drug or used any form of banned performance enhancing techniques, as it is the blood doping.

Since the ideal situation is that each drug requires its own test, considering that there hundreds of them, it is nearly impossible to take one athlete at a time and have him undergo hundreds of tests for each chemical substance that is dangerous for the health and it could affect his performance (for better or for worse, that is, because every athlete wants to have outstanding results, this is why they may be tempted to try new under the sleeve solutions in order to improve their performance).

How antidoping is done?

So, what could the officials do? Unleashing creativity, they come up with a solution that could allow them to test the athletes for each drug. How? They have developed a standardized testing regime that has been tailored for each type of drug. How is it possible? Well, this was possible because of the unique signature that each drug leaves in the human blood.

The tests that athletes undergo can either trace the drug itself, or can trace only a molecule or more that are formed when the drug is broken down inside the body. And since the labs test only for specific drugs, having a small amount of them, athletes can cheat the system by taking another type of drug, one that doesn’t exist in all the labs tests. And so, they will manage to go undetected. Psychologists also think that a person who knows enough chemistry and has the right training (such as athletes or coaches) could easily tweak the drug in a slight way, so that it won’t be detected on the tests anymore.

There is absolute no doubt that every athlete that is keen on gaining the desired competition will constantly look for new ways of making his victory a fact, by taking drugs that are becoming more and more available, each day that passes by. They may also be supported and encouraged by the tea that trains them. This is why the testing labs have to be more vigilant in discovering them, so they have to adapt more rapidly in order to catch any new drug that comes to surface and promises to give the athlete the desired winning game. The constant development of new drugs and the constant trial to find new ways to test and discover them has led everybody into a doping arms race.

So, here are a few ways that the lab test can outsmart the athletes that are trying to fool them around

First of all, the lab tests may keep a blood sample of every athlete they have. This is a good news and it would be an efficient method to detect the new drugs, because no matter how athletes may think that they will be undiscoverable if they constantly try new drugs available on the market, they won’t be able to hide or avoid the consequences forever (and these consequences will be noticed in their blood).

Officially, whenever an athlete gets tested, the lab saves a second small sample of blood for later usage. If they do so, when they will be testing the athlete again, they will also be able to test the second small blood sample to compare the results and to see the difference, if there is any.

This is actually a retrospective testing, and this approach can indeed determine if some of the athletes are doping or not. In the case that an athlete is tested positive for drug usage, he or she will have his or her medals all taken away. So, if an athlete has doped during a past competition, the blood tests comparison shall reveal them. This is a good way of keeping the athletes honest and on the path to success that is obtained via their work alone.

Also, there is another possibility to spot a cheating athlete – by developing a single test available for all the dopings. Since there is a wide range of possibilities on how the athletes may be doping themselves, the scientists weren’t able to reach to this ideal scenario yet. However, they have taken really big steps towards this goal of developing a test that may be able to finally screen for the many drugs that can fall into a particular group or category, which is the androgenic steroids.

The androgenic steroids work by binding themselves to the androgen receptor, so, the tests could rather look straight to the receptor rather than losing time and exploring each of the various drugs. It is important to remind that there are many other substances that are able to imitate the action of androgenic steroids and that may get unnoticed in the tests, this is why this solution could be more viable in the near future.

This method will allow the scientists to take the cells that contain those receptors and add a special tag for them, an operation that can be conducted in the laboratories. Afterwards, it is recommendable to test the blood and then add it to a dish that contain the receptors. If the tags added will light up, then the scientists will definitely know that there is something in the blood that is able to bind them. Despite the plausible results this method could provide, it has not yet been too widely adopted.

The main reason is the speculation that because the test won’t be able to reveal what kind of substance is actually binding to the receptors, this is why this test will probably be more suitable as a screening test. However, the labs could definitely try this test first, before launching into any other kind of tests that look particularly for some specific drugs.


It will be best if an option of discovering the cheating athletes no matter what drug they may have used will soon be available, because by then, some athletes may find joy in an unfair winning, while others may work so hard in order to get where they want to be and have someone else take that dream away from them, right from under their nose, just because they have taken something that enhanced their physical performance in a certain kind of competition.

The world of sports is filled with injustices such as these, this is why, in order to keep the athletes honest and close to the winning due to hard work goal, the officials and scientists have to work on a way that will be able to tell them who plays fair and who plays dirty. Of course, athletes that cheat may get away with it once or twice or more, but at some point, their luck will end and they will end up without any of the medals that they have put themselves so much at risk in order to achieve them. And when this will happen, it will rock their entire world.

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