By Edward Hu

How does one improve in sport? Through pain and sacrifice. So, what is it that makes doping so terrible in the world of sport? Doping is gain through pain and sacrifice: the only inherent difference is that doping increases health risk – however, this is not foreign to most sports.

First of all, if everyone is doping then no one receives a competitive edge. Instead of performing at a level playing field, they are now doing so with everyone on a higher playing field but with more adverse effects. The professional sports players act as role models to everyone watching: people copy their moves, their fashion and even their way of speaking. For the amateurs and hobbyists, doping will unnecessarily increase adverse health effects such as mood swings (mental health counts too), insomnia and famously: impotence. Setting an example which removes the benefits of exercise and sport and replacing it with side-effects is not what sport in the media is about.

Additionally, doping changes sport into something where it’s all about winning regardless of the method. However, it’s already been quite clearly established that doping is not looked well upon - so why do so many athletes still choose to do so even when testing and regulations are so much tighter than they were before? It is because of the way that sport has now been monetized and that winning not only brings glory, but also fame and a few extra digits in the bank account.

Imagine this, in the next Tour de France there is both a clean and doping variant: which would you watch? It is due to this that doping has become more widespread because frankly, the audience wishes for intense playing and more entertainment. So, what can be done to make sure that sport remains entertaining yet safe?

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Some argue that the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) must be made more effective; it complains of a lack of funding with $30 million each year. Currently, cheaters are using drugs not available for testing and when tests are made, they’ve already moved on.

However, others say that this will be forever a cat and mouse game where the tests are permanently a few years behind the methods used to avoid detection. Instead, they believe that doping should be made legal: using the same argument that people made for cannabis. If it is made legal and regulated to some extent, then it will be safer. They further say that doping itself is not a black and white margin anyway, for example, drugs such as caffeine were banned up to 2004 but then were legalised once again. For them, they believe doping is only banned because of the stigma around ‘drugs’ but really drugs exist everywhere.

Whatever the case, doping is something that needs to be addressed immediately as the highlighted cases of Russian backed doping and widespread use in cycling have shown. It is time that things were made fair for those that don’t give to the temptation of cheating.