Doping in Sports: FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations


What is doping?

Doping definition is widely used by organizations that regulate sports. This article will discuss what is doping in sports. The term is commonly used to refer to performance enhancing drugs, steroids and similar medications. Other names for these substances are performance enhancing supplements, diet aids, and hormone blockers.

In short, in professional sports, doping is the usage of prohibited, but legal, athletic performance-enhancing medications by professional sportsmen.


Types of doping in sports

Although there has been some negative public perception of athletes using performance enhancing substances, the scientific and medical communities have been debating whether, in fact, such substances increase performance, decrease injury, improve recovery time, and prevent certain diseases.

There are two categories of steroids:

  • Synthetic (or custom made);
  • Natural.

Most performance enhancing drugs are synthetic substances.

Over the past years, the debate regarding steroids has grown more heated, particularly with respect to its use among professional athletes. There are two groups of substances involved here: those that promote muscle growth and those that inhibit growth.

Although some debate exists as to which category of substances is the bigger danger, most agree that there is a problem when performance-enhancing drugs are used in athletics.

Steroids can be classified into two main types: androgenic and anabolic. Androgenic refers to testosterone-like substances while anabolic refers to substances that act on the body via the hormone.

Human growth hormone (HGH) supplements have been in use for several years by athletes, body builders, and other athletes engaged in physical activity. In recent years, there has been increased interest in the possibility of a connection between HGH use and athletic ability. 

HGH supplements help athletes improve their performance by increasing muscle mass. The pituitary gland releases HGH during childhood and into early adulthood. With age, the production of HGH declines, resulting in a deficiency in muscle mass. Athletes, body builders in particular, take supplements to improve strength and enhance performance.


World anti-doping agency

The recent news regarding the world anti-doping agency’s finding that some athletes had used performance enhancing drugs such as testosterone (in testosterone-like substances) during sporting events led to calls for tighter regulation of the sports medicine industry. The athletes were not accused of cheating per se, but the APA, who was responsible for the investigation, stated that it was “not in any way disputable that these athletes were using performance-enhancing substances.”

The APA further stated that its investigation did not conclude that there was a connection between the substances and the results of the games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also criticized for not launching an investigation into the matter earlier and not sending a team to analyze the samples. The announcement came just before the Rio Olympics, when the entire Brazilian squad was banned from the competition due to the findings of the APA report.


Blood doping in 2020

As a result of the APA’s announcement, many prominent athletes have come out and stated that they would not engage in competitive athletics if there was going to be a ban on performance-enhancing substances. This includes Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Vettel, who said that he would not enter the Formula One race next year if a blood doping scandal were to occur. British Cycling champion Sir Bradley Wiggins said that he would give up professional cycling if a blood doping case were to be brought against him.

The controversy surrounding these recent findings is not new, but it has received increased attention because the athletes involved are so well known. Professional cyclists have been caught using performance enhancing drugs, especially testosterone, cortisone and EPO, which are illegal under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) anti-doping rules.

These latest developments in sports medicine raise questions about the oversight of certain organizations and the role of universities and colleges in athletes’ training. Many of the athletes have said that they did not know that the substances were banned.


FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations

International federations like FIFA and the IOC have been the first organizations to fight against doping in sport. FIFA introduced regular Doping Controls in 1966 to make sure that the results of its International Competitions’ including the World Cup 2022 matches are a fair reflection of the strength of the contenders.

The fundamental aims of Doping Control are to:

  • Safeguard the physical health and mental integrity of players;
  • Uphold and preserve the ethics of sport;
  • Ensure that all competitors have an equal chance.

The revised FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations (FIFA ADR), includes the changes from the new World Anti-Doping Code and important updates to address the new challenges in the fight against doping in football worldwide.

The main changes are the followings:

  • Further differentiation between players;
  • A stronger emphasis on anti-doping education;
  • New “substance of abuse” policy;
  • Stronger whistle-blower protection.