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We get terribly excited about the issue of drugs in sport. The fear of anabolic agents or stimulants producing superhuman performance has dominated Olympic and professional team sports for many years. It seems however that doping has been present virtually since competitive sports began, with apocryphal stories of various potions being used in ancient times just as pharmacological agents are used today.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned agents gets ever longer and more complex and yet we still seem to have high-level athletes testing positive on a regular basis. Does this mean the process actually works or does it reflect a fundamental failure of the doping control mechanisms in sport? Why, for example, are non-performance-enhancing agents (eg marijuana) banned, and why are chess and bridge players (yes, they are apparently athletes too according to WADA) banned for using β blockers in competition?
If the system …
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