The word doping is probably derived from the Dutch word dop, the name of an alcoholic beverage made of grape skins used by Zulu warriors in order to enhance their prowess in battle. The term became current around the turn of the 20th century, originally referring to illegal drugging of racehorses. The practice of enhancing performance through foreign substances or other artificial means, however, is as old as competitive sport itself.

Doping is the word used in sport when athletes use prohibited substances or methods to unfairly improve their sporting performance.

History of doping

The practice of doping in sport – the use of substances and artificial ways of enhancing performance – is possibly as old as organised sport itself. Even in Ancient Greece, athletes used special diets and stimulants to build strength, but it was not until the 1920s that it became clear that restrictions were needed on drug use in sport.

The first International Sport Federation to ban the use of stimulating substances was the International Association of Athletics Federations in 1928, paving the way for many other sports to follow in their footsteps. However, no testing was carried out at this time.

It was not until the death of Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen as he took part in the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, where the autopsy revealed traces of amphetamine, that pressure mounted for sports authorities to introduce drug testing.

Six years later, in 1966, the cycling and football federations (UCI and FIFA) introduced drug tests during their World Championships, pre-empting the first Olympic testing at the Grenoble Winter Games and the Olympics in Mexico, in 1968.

What is WADA?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the international independent organisation created in 1999 to promote, coordinate, and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms.

Composed and funded equally by the sports movement and governments of the world, WADA coordinated the development and implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), the document harmonising anti-doping policies in all sports and all countries.

WADA is a Swiss private law Foundation. Its seat is in Lausanne, Switzerland, and its headquarters are in Montreal, Canada. WADA works towards a vision of the world that values and fosters clean sport.

For more information about WADA, consult the WADA website.


Doping is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of sport.

The anti-doping program aims at preserving the intrinsic value of sport. This intrinsic value is often described as the “spirit of sport”, it is the essence of Olympism, the pursuit of human excellence through dedicated perfection of each person’s natural talents. It is how we play true. The spirit of sport is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind and it is reflected in values we find in and through sport, including:

  • ethics, fair play and honesty
  • health
  • excellence in performance
  • character and education
  • fun and joy
  • teamwork
  • dedication and commitment
  • respect for rules and laws
  • respect for self and others
  • courage
  • community and solidarity

Anti-Doping Rule Violations

Anti-doping rule violations are not restricted to the use of prohibited substances and/or methods.

Apart from positive doping tests, any and all infringements hereunder are considered to be infringements to the Anti-Doping Rules and are sanctioned by a suspension or another disciplinary sanction:

  • Presence of a prohibited substance in the sample collected on a gymnast.
  • Use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or method
  • Evading, refusing or failing to submit to a test after notification
  • Violation of requirements applicable as to whereabouts of gymnasts and missed tests
  • Tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control
  • Possession of a prohibited substance or method
  • Trafficking or attempted trafficking of a prohibited substance or method
  • Administration or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or method to a gymnast
  • Complicity implying an anti-doping rule violation
  • Prohibited association with a member of the entourage under sanction
Consequences of doping

Consequences of Doping, including Sanctions, Consequences on health and Social consequences

An athlete runs very high risks by consuming doping substances or by using prohibited methods. This may result in very severe health but also financial, legal and social consequences.

Medical consequences

Physical health: depending on the substance, the dosage and the consumption frequency, doping products may have particularly negative side effects on health. Some damages for the body are irreversible and may lead that the athlete’s life be in great danger.

Psychological health: some doping substances may not be detrimental to the body but exercise an impact on mental health. It was scientifically evidenced that anxiety, obsessive disorders or psychosis are direct consequences from doping.

Social consequences

The existence of an athlete who was held guilty for doping may be completely disrupted. Indeed, doping may represent a danger for the health but it may also be prejudicial to the fame, respect and creditworthiness. Even future negative findings are regularly questioned by the media and the entourage. The poor image will remain in the collective unconscious and the athlete will remain isolated.

Financial consequences

As regards high-performance sport, an infringement of anti-doping rules often leads to a loss of income, the reimbursement of prize moneys and of the sponsorship money. An athlete suspended for several years, or even life-banned, cannot earn his/her living as usual and can even be forced into debts to live on a day-to-day basis.

Legal consequences

Doping may have major legal consequences. A doped gymnast may be suspended, i.e. he/she may not take part in sport competition or in organized training sessions.


The long-term solution to reduce doping is through effective prevention and clean sport values-based education programs to create a strong doping-free culture. Education is an essential component of any programme focused on the development of athletes or those who support them.

The following education resources and tools are recommended by the WAPAF. There are tools intended for Athletes, Athlete Support Personnell (Coaches, Medical Staff, National Federations, Parents, Managers etc.) or any other person who wishes to know more about anti-doping.

ADEL is the global Anti-Doping Education and Learning platform. ADEL welcomes anyone who wants to learn about clean sport. ADEL has a range of interactive courses and resources (ADEL Academy) as well as opportunities to connect with others involved in anti-doping. WADA‘s aim is to help people get educated and to find the technical anti-doping help when they need to. If you prefer to learn on the go, you can also download their Mobile App ‘ADEL by WADA’ which you can find from the iTunes or GooglePlay stores.

On ADEL you can find:

  • eLearning
  • Resources for athletes
  • Resources for athlete support personnel
  • Quizzes, Videos, Webinars and more!

ADEL Website for more information and signing up

ITA Webinars
In 2020 our Partner, the International Testing Agency (ITA), started to run a series of online learning sessions that cover important topics in anti-doping. The Webinars are available on Youtube and cover topics such as: Understanding the Anti-Doping Landscape and the Athlete Perspective; Doping Control Process: Urine and Blood Sample Collection; Principles and Values, Rights and Responsibilities; Medications, Supplements, TUEs and the Prohibited List, The Registered Testing Pool, Whereabouts and use of ADAMS (Athlete Central) and more.