You are here:  Home > Human Health > Drugs in sport
University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE

Performance enhancing drugs in sport

We all want to win.

Sportsmen and women follow special training regimes and strict diets designed to boost their performance yet taking performance enhancing substances is acknowledged to be a step too far. Though drugs have been involved in sports since competitors in the ancient Greek Olympics used extracts of fungi and plant seeds to boost their performance, many substances are now banned. 

Drugs used in sport fall into certain categories.

Currently there are 1500 banned substances however, many of these occur naturally in the body and some are in dietary supplements. This makes drug detection anything but simple. Some drugs such as beta blockers are allowed in some sports but not others. It seems possible that the authorities are making a rod for their own back.

Also as current competition rules allow athletes to shave their body hair (can make the difference between winning and losing in swimming), to ski in fluid body armour suits that not all countries can afford and to have corrective laser eye surgery (useful for archery and shooting). So why not allow drug use in sports?

Thought Experiment: What if genetic engineering techniques were able to create embryos with genes manipulated to enhance sporting ability?

Predict: three changes that may happen to the world of sport.
Discuss your ideas in a group and Observe others’ predictions.
Analyse: why they thought that, explain your reasoning for others.
Evaluate: what are the benefits and drawbacks of your suggested changes?

Next Why not allow drug use in sports?


What's your opinion?

Average rating

Current rating: 4/5 (from 1 votes cast)

Read comments

engilsh student 20-06-12 09:29
i think that wanting to win shouldn't justify cheating with performance enhancing drugs and anyone who disagrees with me is clearly wrong.

Bookmark this pagefacebook myspace bebo delicious diigo stumbleupon twitter reddit yahoo google


Drugs and sport

I'm a Scientist: Get me out of here's Debate Kit on Drugs in Sport aims to develop students’ discussion skills. It contains 8 debate cards outlining the opinions of fictional characters with an interest in the topic, and teachers notes.

Useful links for research

UK Sport logo
This web page lists the information resources and services offered by UK Sport 

100% Me logo
100% me is UK Sport's athlete-centred programme that aims to increase understanding of drug-free sport amongst the whole sporting community.


The BEEP team would like to thank John Fenlon for his help in writing this section.