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The emergence of sports competitions such as athletics and biking instigated the use of performance-enhancing substances to increase the probability of winning. It was not until 1968 that the testing of athletes for the use performance-enhancing drugs began. As a result, doping has been banned by enacting stiff penalties to deal with the problem. Nevertheless, with the most competitive sports attracting high incentives and coveted awards, the problem has only intensified in recent years as the users focus on gaining a competitive edge.
The ideology of doping promotes unfairness. To tackle the menace, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) prepare and update a list of the banned substances annually. Sports participants commonly use tranquilizers, steroids, liquor, and diuretics, among other stimulants to boost their performances. Other drugs, such as peptide and antagonistic hormones, together with their modulators, are also frequently used amongst players (Kisaalita and Michael 44).
The motives and objectives of doping in sports are guided by the personality traits and behavior of the people involved. The public expects individuals to apply socially accepted methods to achieve success. Deviating from this expectation attracts a penalty from the society that prescribes the norms and values that govern various sports activities. For this reason, the IOC and WADA have stringent prescriptions concerning the behavior of the participants in sports. Breaking the rules is deemed as deviance. As a result, various types of punishments are applicable to drug users.
History of Doping Behavior
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, cycling gained popularity as the game extended the limits of the human body (Kisaalita and Michael 45). Since then, riders have been shown to use all sorts of stimulants such as strychnine and amphetamines, especially in tough races that are characterized by long and exhaustive cycling hours. Substantial evidence reveals that bike cycling is commonly faced with the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PED).
Such competitions attract high-end prizes, among other incentives that comprise the fundamental reasons for doping. There have been sporting scandals pertaining to performance drugs since the 1990s. For example, on the eve of Tour de France in 1998, a team assistant for the top-ranked Festina team was intercepted along the French and Belgian border, transiting a truckload of performance-enhancing products. This scandal sparked a massive crackdown and robust anti-doping campaign in the world of sports. The society was highly blamed for failing to nurture ethical and responsible completion practices. Doping is a shared problem that arose from socialization processes. Research has found that the culprits of PED acquire unacceptable practices from peers in either school and/or street competitions, among other places. The IOC, among other anti-doping campaigners, posits that tackling the addressing at such places is a sound move towards alleviation of the menace. The consequences of doping are inevitably undesirable.
Causes of Doping and its Effects on Competition
Besides causing unfair competition, some of the drugs can have very harmful effects on the health of the users. Numerous researchers have affirmed that some sports allow the use of performance-enhancing substances as part of their set norms and culture. In such cases, failure to use them is termed as deviance. For instance, sports that allow the use of PED include basketball, bodybuilding, cycling, & Olympics. However, the use of such substances outside sports is considered non-conformity.
This risky behavior has contributed significantly to the widespread use of PED in many competitions. Nevertheless, athletes across a range of sports have opposed the sporting ethic with a view of neutralizing deviant behavior in sports. Some of the motivations for the use of PED include self-fulfilling accounts and denial of injuries. A study that was conducted to investigate professional cyclists and elites revealed that the use of PEDs was once perceived as a rite of passage to professional competitions or group initiations.
However, this conception changed after the Festina Affair. Today, the practice is seen as an individualized choice and affair (Kisaalita and Michael 48). Cyclists were also failed to condemn the act as they claimed that the use of PED was a personal choice. It was uncovered that doping among professionals and elites was acceptable but condemned among amateurs. Given the diversity of cycling cultures, doping is viewed differently in diverse parts of the world. However, as far as international laws and rules of the game, such as the Olympics are concerned, the use of performance-enhancing substances is a criminal practice that attracts lawful punishment. For the purpose of this paper, the social constructs and beliefs utilized by the users of PEDs have been discussed with the aim of providing an insight into the practice.
Sociological Perspectives and Models explaining Doping Behavior
Studies on cyclist attitudes have uncovered the socio-cultural perspectives under which doping happens. Some of the identified key attitudes and values among elite cyclists include endurance, perseverance, and competitiveness. Such cultural values have given rise to the increasing use of PEDs in cycling and other sports in contemporary sports competitions. Socialization has played a key role in the emergence of the doping culture. Researchers have used various sociological perspectives to explain doping practices in athletics due to the shifting social trends in the modern sport, including the integration of technology into sports performance and a sub-cultural tradition of use of performance-enhancing substances (Kisaalita and Michael 44).
People who use PEDs adopt neutralization strategies to justify their deviant behaviors, including denial of responsibility and injury and criticism of condemners. Numerous researches have revealed that the behavior is common among doping culprits in the present-day sports. In addition, various subcultures and settings of neutralization that contribute to the practice exist. The above justifications of doping protect then victims from prosecution and condemnation.
Several models of doping behaviors have also attempted to explain the complexity of drugging justifications. For instance, the Drugs in Sports Deterrence Model (DSDM) highlight the role of decision-making processes involved in PED use and the contributions of other determinants (Kisaalita and Michael 46). Moreover, drug compliance in sports models puts forward several factors presumed as important advantages for doping practices, including threat and benefits appraisal, personal morality, legitimacy, personal self-esteem, drug availability, and reference group opinion, among others (Kisaalita and Michael 45).
As aforementioned, the use of performance-enhancing drugs and substances is not a new phenomenon as it gained popularity as early as the nineteenth century. Many factors leverage the use of PEDs in sports based on the behavioral attributes and attitudes of users. Regardless of the cultural perceptions that individuals possess regarding the use of PEDs, their outcome is unfair competition since users gain a competitive advantage over non-users. Despite various sports governing bodies intensifying anti-doping campaigns by outlining penal repercussions, the practice poses a significant challenge since users are gradually adopting advanced methods of doping. Nonetheless, it is the role of society to change the negative trend of using unfair means to achieve success in sports.
Kisaalita, Nkaku and Michael Robinson. Attitudes and Motivations of Competitive Cyclists Regarding Use of Banned and Legal Performance Enhancers. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 13.1(2014): 44-50. Print.