Enhance Your Performance – You Dope!

WADA holds 5th World Conference on Doping in Sport (New Delhi Times Bureau, 2019)

Spurred on by an increased pressure to win and gain competitive advantage, are the sports stars of today disregarding their ethical values and the integrity of sport by choosing to use performance enhancing drugs.

Performance Enhancing Drugs: The Rhetoric and the Reality (Texas Education, 2016)

The last few decades have seen a steady increase in the number of professional sports stars using steroids with an increased volume of ‘doping’ being reported at various sporting events around the world.


Reported cases include the Olympic Sprinter, Ben Johnson being stripped of his gold medal in 1988, the professional cyclist, Lance Armstrong being stripped of his titles, sponsors and association with his own charity in 2012 to the controversy surrounding state-sponsored doping in the Russian Athletics Team which resulted in Russia being handed a four-year ban from all major sporting events in 2019.

Ben Johnson Seoul 1988 (2003)
Lance Armstrong – Caricature (2013)







Ethical misuses in the 21st century sport industry are more prominent and deliver greater impact than ever before”. The disgraced sports star who is found guilty may be viewed as displaying no remorse with regard to the detrimental effect it has on their chosen sport and that the will to win far outweighs the damaging effect on the sports brand.

If we take into consideration the view that “the athlete’s image is actually the product” (Bruton, 2016, pg 64) we may not be able to dispute the fact that an increased use of steroid use may cause serious harm to the brand.

Athlete Running Motion (Pixabay, 2020)

“The athlete’s using Performance Enhancing Drugs are putting current and future endorsement opportunities at risk”. From a marketing perspective, having an endorser athlete test positive can be a fiasco” (Bruton, 2016. pg 260).


Customer demand is greater than ever before and with an increase in social media platforms reporting doping amongst the top athlete’s, just how much of an effect this will have on the image of the sports brand remains to be seen.

In August 2015, Sebastian Coe, the President of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), was quoted as saying he “is determined to prove athletics’ world governing body is committed to ridding the sport of drug cheats”.

A recent punishment was handed out on September 30th 2019 when Alberto Salazar, the legendary American distance coach who guided many known athlete’s to Olympic medals, was banned for four years after he was found to have trafficked testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance.

Perhaps the governing bodies are being pro-active however, there are many who will argue that there is not enough action being taken and that ‘doping appears remarkably widespread among elite athletes and remains largely unchecked’.

Cheat to win bracelets (slowrobot.com, 2016)

Figures provided in February 2018 stated ‘the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) tests blood and urine samples from several hundred thousand Olympic athletes every year. About 1-2 percent of these samples test positive’ (Specktor, 2018). On the contrary, other figures provided stated ‘up to 57 percent admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs’ (Ulrich et al, 2017).

By keeping an open mind and remaining impartial, do you envisage doping having a serious impact on the the credibility of the professional athlete and sports brand alike or, will we witness a steady increase in the amount of action being taken by the governing bodies in order to keep the ‘spirit of sport’ alive?


Reference List

BBC Sport (2015) Doping in Sport: What is it and how is it being tackled? Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/33997246 (Accessed: 10 February 2020).

BBC Sport (2019) Lance Armstrong: I wouldn’t change a thing about doping. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/48393491 (Accessed: 27 January 2020).

BBC Sport (2019) Russia banned for four years to include 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/50710598 (Accessed: 2 January 2020).

CNN Editorial Research (2019) Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports Fast Facts. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/06/us/performance-enhancing-drugs-in-sports-fast-facts/index.html (Accessed: 10 February 2020).

Mann, Andrea. (2018) September 27, 1988: Ben Johnson is stripped of his Olympic gold medal after failing drugs test. Available at: https://home.bt.com/news/on-this-day/september-27-1988-ben-johnson-is-stripped-of-his-olympic-gold-medal-after-failing-drugs-test-11364007354384 (Accessed: 27 January 2020).

Pritchard, M. and Burton, R. (2014) Ethical Failures in Sport Business: Directions for Research. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/300498497_Ethical_Failures_in_Sport_Business_Directions_for_Research. (Accessed: 4 January 2020).

Richardson. A (2017), ‘History of Doping Cases: Pre World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) 1999’, Strength is Never a Weakness, 21 December. Available at: https://strengthtrainingforyou.blogspot.com/2017/12/history-of-doping-cases-pre-world-anti.html (Accessed: 16 December 2019).

Specktor, B. (2018) Why Is It So Easy to Cheat at the Olympics?. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/61747-how-widespread-olympic-doping.html (Accessed: 11 February 2020).

The Runners World Editors (2019) Oregon Project Coach Alberto Salazar Banned 4 Years for Doping. Available at: https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a29312870/alberto-salazar-doping-ban/ (Accessed 20 February 2020).

Ulrich, R. et al (2017) Doping in Two Elite Athletics Competitions Assessed by Randomized-Response Surveys. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-017-0765-4. (Accessed: 2 January 2020).

World Athletics (2019) About World Athletics Available at: https://www.worldathletics.org/about-iaaf (Accessed 27 January 2020).

Image References

DonkeyHotey (2013). Lance Armstrong – Caricature. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/8395957462 (Accessed 6 January 2020)

DPMS (2003) Ben Johnson Seoul 1988. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dpms/448224387 (Accessed: 4 January 2020).2013)

New Delhi Times Bureau (2012). Available at: http://www.newdelhitimes.com/wada-holds-5th-world-conference-on-doping-in-sport (Accessed: 16 December 2019).

Pixabay (no date) Athlete Running Motion. Available at: https://www.google.com/search?q=athlete+image&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwi-sszi9N_nAhUZ_IUKHbSNAl8Q2-cCegQIABAA&oq=athlete+image&gs_l=img.1.0.0l6j0i7i30l4.28307.29794..31317…0.0..0.87.419.8……0….1..gws-wiz-img…….0i7i10i30.jaRNh2KB8vo&ei=KV5OXv75N5n4lwS0m4r4BQ&bih=1292&biw=1233&rlz=1C1GCEB_enGB886GB886&tbs=sur%3Afc&hl=en#imgrc=u4FbZqb0AkFFUM (Accessed: 4 January 2020).

Texas Education (2016). Available at: https://education.utexas.edu/events/performance-enhancing-drugs-rhetoric-and-reality (Accessed: 14 February 2020).