In competitive sports, doping refers to the use of banned athletic performance-enhancing drugs by athletic competitors, where the term doping is widely used by organizations that regulate sporting competitions. The use of drugs to enhance performance is considered unethical, and therefore prohibited, by most international sports organizations, including the International Olympic Committee.
Historically speaking, the origins of doping in sports go back to the very creation of sport itself. From ancient usage of substances in chariot racing to more recent controversies in baseball and cycling, popular views among athletes have varied widely from country to country over the years. The general trend among authorities and sporting organizations over the past several decades has been to strictly regulate the use of drugs in sport. The reasons for the ban are mainly the health risks of performance-enhancing drugs, the equality of opportunity for athletes, and the exemplary effect of drug-free sport for the public. Anti-doping authorities state that using performance-enhancing drugs goes against the “spirit of sport”.
Stimulants are drugs that usually act on the central nervous system to modulate mental function and behavior, increasing an individual’s sense of excitement and decreasing the sensation of fatigue. In the World Anti-Doping Agency list of prohibited substances, stimulants are the second largest class after the anabolic steroids. Examples of well known stimulants include caffeine, cocaine, amphetamine, modafinil, and ephedrine. Caffeine, although a stimulant has not been banned by the International Olympic Committee or the World Anti Doping Agency since 2004.
Benzedrine is a trade name for amphetamine. The Council of Europe says it first appeared in sport at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. It was produced in 1887 and the derivative, Benzedrine, was isolated in the U.S. in 1934 by Gordon Alles. Its perceived effects gave it the street name “speed”. British troops used 72 million amphetamine tablets in the Second World War and the RAF got through so many that “Methedrine won the Battle of Britain” according to one report. The problem was that amphetamine leads to a lack of judgement and a willingness to take risks, which in sport could lead to better performances but in fighters and bombers led to more crash landings than the RAF could tolerate. The drug was withdrawn but large stocks remained on the black market. Amphetamine was also used legally as an aid to slimming and also as a thymoleptic before being phased out by the appearance of newer agents in the 1950s.
Everton, one of the top clubs in the English football league, were champions of the 1962–63 season. And it was done, according to a national newspaper investigation, with the help of Benzedrine. Word spread after Everton’s win that the drug had been involved. The newspaper investigated, cited where the reporter believed it had come from, and quoted the goalkeeper, Albert Dunlop, as saying:
I cannot remember how they first came to be offered to us. But they were distributed in the dressing rooms. We didn’t have to take them but most of the players did. The tablets were mostly white but once or twice they were yellow. They were used through the 1961–62 season and the championship season which followed it. Drug-taking had previously been virtually unnamed in the club. But once it had started we could have as many tablets as we liked. On match days they were handed out to most players as a matter of course. Soon some of the players could not do without the drugs.
The club agreed that drugs had been used but that they “could not possibly have had any harmful effect.” Dunlop, however, said he had become an addict.
In November 1942, the Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi took “seven packets of amphetamine” to beat the world hour record on the track. In 1960, the Danish riderKnud Enemark Jensen collapsed during the 100 km team time trial at the Olympic Games in Rome and died later in hospital. The autopsy showed he had taken amphetamine and another drug, Ronicol, which dilates the blood vessels. The chairman of the Dutch cycling federation, Piet van Dijk, said of Rome that “dope – whole cartloads – [were] used in such royal quantities.”
The 1950s British cycling professional Jock Andrews would joke: “You need never go off-course chasing the peloton in a big race – just follow the trail of empty syringes and dope wrappers.