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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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Performance-enhancing drugs don't actually make you better at sport

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Image: Shutterstock/Lebedev Roman Olegovich

USING PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING is damaging the reputation of sport without actually improving performance.

That is according to a study from the University of Adelaide, which collated records from sporting records across 26 sports in both genders.

Comparisons were made between pre-1932 records (when steroids became available) and post, and it was found that the times, distances and other results did not improve as expected in the doping era.

The findings were this week posted in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise this week.

“The effects of doping in modern sports are far and widespread, encompassing not only the athletes and sporting teams involved, but also sponsors and fans,” says Dr Aaron Hermann, lead author on the paper.

“This research looked at 26 of the most controlled and some of the most popular sports, including various track and field events like 100m sprints, hurdles, high jump, long jump and shot-put, as well as some winter sports like speed skating and ski jumping.

The average best life records for ‘doped’ top athletes did not differ significantly from those considered not to have doped. Even assuming that not all cases of doping were discovered during this time, the practice of doping did not improve sporting results as commonly believed.

In fact, Dr Hermann argues that this shows not just the negatives of taking the drugs, but also that their use may be more widespread than thought.

The 2000 Olympics gold medal result for the women’s 100m sprint was even poorer than the gold medal obtained in the 1968 Olympics, the first year of doping testing in the Olympics.

“This research demonstrates that doping practices are not improving results and in fact, may be harming them – seemingly indicating that ‘natural’ human abilities would outperform the potentially doping ‘enhanced’ athletes – and that in some sports, doping may be highly prevalent.”

He adds that he hopes the study will confront “ill-informed” views that people need to dope in certain sports to succeed.

Read: ‘You can’t go out there thinking everyone’s on drugs’

Read: 34 AFL players cleared as anti-doping tribunal ‘not comfortably satisfied’ they cheated

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