Because of a lack of proof, the use of performance-enhancing drugs in association football is not popularly linked with the sport, as it is in individual sports such as cycling, weight-lifting, and track and field. However, evidence has shown that drug testers in major tournaments have found banned substances in several soccer players.
It is estimated that up to 90% of all elite athletes will fail a drug test at some point in their career. Drug testing of soccer players is common because there are many ways for players to improve their skills including using steroids, growth hormones, and masking agents. The International Football Association Board (IBAB) introduced random drug tests for national teams in September 2001 and for club teams in January 2002. Since then, nearly every world-class player has tested positive at least once while preparing for a tournament or a season.
The most recent case involved Brazilian star Neymar who was suspended for three matches after testing positive for methylhexaneamine, an anabolic agent, during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. During the same tournament, Spanish defender Rafael Márquez was also suspended for three games after testing positive for the same substance.
Neymar's father said his son took the drug in order to lose weight for the bigger challenges ahead. "He did it alone, without anyone advising him," he said.
The use of performance-enhancing substances ("doping") appears to be uncommon in football. However, much closer coordination and deeper inquiry appear to be required in the global context of prohibited drugs, detection systems, and data gathering.
It is possible that some players may choose to take doping products because they see no other option if they are to remain at the top of their game. However, the sport itself seems to serve as a deterrent for many people who might otherwise seek to improve their performance through drug use.
In addition to those players who dope knowingly, others may do so unwittingly. For example, high levels of testosterone have been found in some athletes without any knowledge of this having occurred. In such cases, doctors will often prescribe an anti-androgen medication such as flutamide or bicalutamide to block its effects.
Because of the fear of being detected, secrecy and cover-up seem to be common features of many doping incidents that come to light. This may explain why so few cases are reported by affected individuals or teams.
However, recent years have seen a number of high-profile cases where this has not been the case. For example, American baseball player Ryan Zimmerman was suspended for three games in 2012 after testing positive for steroid drostanolone.
In sports, so-called "performance-enhancing drugs" or "performance and image-enhancing substances" are prohibited because they might offer a contestant an unfair edge over other rivals. Drug use in sports weakens ideals such as fair play and collaboration. It can also have negative effects on the health of athletes.
Drugs are used in sports to increase speed, strength, endurance, and muscle mass. Drugs can be divided into two main groups: stimulants and performance-enhancers. Stimulants make users feel excited, alert, and focused. They include caffeine, ephedrine, amphetamines (such as Adderall), and methylphenidate (Ritalin). Performance-enhancers are drugs that improve physical ability or power while exercising. Some examples include erythropoietin (EPO) and growth hormones. Their use is often restricted by sports organizations.
Stimulant drugs may enhance athletic performance when used in moderation. However, many studies show that high doses of caffeine interfere with sleep patterns and can cause nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, stomach pain, and heartburn. It is banned by international sporting bodies like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The IOC has also taken action against drug cheats by banning them from all future games.
Football, like most high-profile team sports, is plagued by recreational drug usage, with the case of Diego Maradona and cocaine in 1991 being the most well-known example. However, recent studies have shown that footballers do, in fact, take drugs at rates similar to or even higher than other professional athletes.
There have been several high-profile cases of footballers testing positive for drugs in recent years, including David Ginola, Nicolas Anelka, Mark van Bommel, José Antonio Reyes and Matías Silvestre. All but one of these players were French, which may indicate a correlation between country of origin and likelihood of doping. Indeed, research has shown that international athletes are more likely to dope than their national teammates.
It is possible that many more footballers test positive for drugs than are identified through conventional means because many drugs used by athletes are undetectable after urine tests, including anabolic steroids, stimulants and ephedra. It is also possible that some players choose not to be detected if they believe it will not affect their status as professionals.
It is common knowledge that athletes who use drugs to enhance their performance are much more likely to get caught because they tend to use much higher doses of drugs than others do.
Almost everyone agrees that performance-enhancing drugs are a scourge on competitive sports. The aversion to this type of drug usage is based on two key claims. The first is that it is unethical. The second point is that performance-enhancing substances endanger athletes' health.
It is believed that doping has had a negative impact on sport for several reasons. First, some people view it as cheating, which can corrupt honest competition. Also, there are concerns about the long-term effects of steroid use by young athletes. Finally, many traditional competitors believe that using drugs allows someone to beat the system and gain an edge over others.
Some think that doping in sports is unfair because it violates the spirit of these games. They feel that sports should be performed without assistance or enhancement of any kind. Additionally, there are fears that donees will take advantage of vulnerable individuals who may believe they are following their dreams by taking steroids.
Many people believe that doping in sports is dangerous because of the threat it poses to athlete's health. Some concern is also expressed about the impact that steroids have on those who use them recreationally.
There are cases where athletes' health has been damaged by prohibited substances. For example, baseball player Ryan Klesko died in 2009 after using testosterone during his career. According to medical reports, he had developed blood cancers that were associated with using exogenous testosterone.