The Olympics are a time for both national pride and celebration of international unity – as countries continued the tradition of the Olympic Truce in Rio, students and faculty here at CPS could be overheard discussing their favorite athletes and events.
However, there’s a dark side to the Olympics – the world of doping. Doping or, the usage of performance-enhancing drugs, has been a growing problem, especially in Russia, where doping is a state-sponsored activity. Russian athletes and officials falsified test results and induced systematic doping; eventually, the Moscow Anti-Doping Center was suspended and the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from the Rio 2016 Games.
Russia was outraged, declaring that the blanket ban was unjust. About a month after the games, Russian hackers released private medical information of top American athletes. The Russian government claims that the hack was not sanctioned, and the hacker group, called Fancy Bear, was acting alone.
Simone Biles, Serena Williams, and Venus Williams were all revealed to have taken banned drugs, although the US Anti-Doping Agency stated that these athletes had been exempted. Fancy Bear declared that they were trying to reveal the double standards behind doping regulations and the hypocrisy of other nations.
Regardless of whether or not Team USA actually dopes just as much as other countries, such as Russia, it’s true that we believe other countries enhance their athletes more. According to a poll of students at CPS with over 100 responses, on a scale of 1 to 10, people generally thought other countries used of performance-enhancing drugs about 10% more than the US.
However, students at CPS still believe that even Team USA dopes over 50% of the time – dishonesty has become the norm rather than the exception. In fact, Team USA has also experienced its share of doping scandals – from Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Justin Gatlin, and Tyson Gay, many high-profile American gold medalists have also used PED’s, or performance enhancing drugs. This is very serious, given that many of us look up to certain Olympic athletes.
A study by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in 2014 revealed that drug use in high school sports has increased by 5 percent. Nine percent of teen girls and 12 percent of boys use the Human Growth Hormone steroid, to obtain “improved muscle mass, performance and appearance,” said the report. “For a lot of boys, it’s about their six-pack,” one of the principal authors in the study noted, saying that high school doping motives were different from traditional motives for drug use.
However, the study also observes that this spike in high school athletic doping occurred around the same time as many other high-profile doping scandals. Given the lack of high school performance-enhancing drug tests that make it practically impossible for a dishonest athlete to be caught, we must remain aware about the moral and physical harms of taking these substances, regardless of whether or not our national Olympic heroes are also doping.