Drug testing was formally introduced to the modern Olympic Games in 1968 in Mexico City. Since that time, thousands of athletes have been exposed as drug cheats across numerous levels of sport. While performance enhancing drugs have been outlawed to maintain a level playing field at all times, there is also strong evidence that demonstrates the damage that performance enhancing drugs can cause both to short and long term health.
The most commonly recognised drugs that are used are steroids, however in recent years “doping” has become much more sophisticated, with “dopers” often a step ahead of those doing the testing in terms of advancing their methods to improve performance and avoid detection.
Personally, I have always wondered what the consequences would be if performance enhancing drugs were allowed to be used. Do not get me wrong, I am fully aware that this is never going to happen, but given some of the feats we have seen today from clean athletes, it is hard not to wonder what would be achievable, even if they could eke out an additional 5 – 10% of performance.
We listed a number of feats that could happen if performance enhancing drugs were allowed to be used.
Were an athlete able to develop extremes of power along with explosive speed, would it be possible for a man to run the 100 metres in under 9 seconds? Usain Bolt believes he can get as low as 9.4 seconds, and he is completely drug free.
Another record that would be threatened is the men’s marathon. One day, someone will run the 26.2 mile distance in under two hours. The men’s record is currently only three and a half minutes above that now anyway, and is sure to come down further in years to come. This remains as one of the great barriers of athletics.
Perhaps the best place to look for what could be achieved is a sport that has had so much bad press over the years due to a lax attitude to performance enhancing drugs. It is fair to say that cycling has done some excellent work to clean itself up, however by comparing the times from mountain climbs at this year’s Tour de France to some of those from the 1980’s through even to the early 2000’s, the performance possibilities are clear to all to see.
For now, global sport is thriving as anti-doping controls become stricter and more difficult to get around, surely the next big challenge will come when new doping trends emerge, which could be during this Olympics.
Videojug has just produced a series of high quality videos about the Olympic Games. The series includes a number of popular sports that are featured in London 2012.