Sport is a well-known factor of health protection when done safely and without pushing your physiological boundaries

At all times, men have sought to improve their performances with artificial means. Indeed, first references to doping reach back into Antiquity, where Greek athletes already ate different meats according to the specific sport they played:

Jumpers ate goat meat.

Boxers and throwers ate bull meat.

As for wrestlers, they preferred fat pork meat

"We are all concerned by doping"

Definition of doping

Doping is a prohibited practice defined by regulations: it is the use by sports competitors of prohibited products, substances or processes appearing on a list updated every year by the world's anti-doping agency. Doping is a specific area of addictive behaviours that may affect all fun, recreational or competitive athletes (an addiction is the irrepressible desire to use a product without being able to control the behaviour)

In short: Doping goes against sports ethics, because sports embody an ideal of balance, sharing, loyalty and body respect. Doping is therefore not only prohibited, but may also cause severe damage to the health.

It is true that using certain prohibited products or methods may, in certain conditions, improve the performances and help obtain unexpected wins. However, it goes against the values of sports, it is cheating and is reprehensible by law.

Using, buying medications from "word-of-mouth" circuits or the Internet poses risks due to the uncertain product quality, the side effects that may harm the body, and the illegal importation of products that have not been received marketing authorisation in your country

Risks associated with doping

They are many, and being aware of them helps fight against doping and protect your health.

No sport, no ambition for performance, no competition, no amount of money, no desire to qualify, no selection, no score, nothing can justify the use of prohibited products to improve performance or hide the use of other products. Even if they are effective, they pose immediate or future dangers for the health.

Non-exhaustive list of risks

Not all doping products and prohibited substances present the same hazards, but all have side effects.

Severe cardiac events

Doping products can cause cardiac rhythm disorders, reduced blood pressure, abnormal blood coagulation, heart attack, sudden death…

Infections and allergies

These products may cause an allergic reaction, from simple erythema to life-threatening oedema (anaphylaxis). The products bought from parallel circuits did not undergo controls by health authorities; their composition is often of dubious quality.

Using them puts you at major risks of infectious agents transmission or allergies (viral hepatitis, Creutzfeldt Jacob, AIDS, etc.)

Dysfunction of certain organs

The use of doping products affects all the organs and may result in many conditions, sometimes severely debilitating,  or even be life-threatening.

The most common are: diabetes, kidney failure, liver failure, severe dehydration, impotence, infertility, loss of bone minerals, respiratory disorders.

Certain effects may appear several years after using these products, as they affect the cell growth and increase the risk of cancer.

Overall weakened body

Opposite effects to those expected may occur, with the onset of general fatigue, fatigability during exertion, weakened tendons and muscles resulting in severe injuries.

Psychological impact

Apart from an addiction evolving into genuine drug dependency, the effects of certain products are characterised by the onset of severe depression, social behavioural disorders, aggressiveness, anxiety, stress intolerance, hallucinations!

Financial dependency

The excessive price of the products from parallel circuits or from the Internet can cause the athlete to go from simple consumer to dealer. This will bring distress and desocialisation.

Doping product awareness

      With a few exceptions, doping products are medicines bought from a pharmacy with forged medical prescriptions or from parallel circuits on the internet.

Other products such as multivitamins, dietary supplements, energy supplements may contain prohibited substances that are unreported and may be used by the athletes without their knowledge.

List of prohibited substances

6 substance classes (S) are prohibited, based on their action, including many products >>For more details, refer to the doping section of the website

S0. Non approved substances

Any pharmacological substance that is not included in any section of the below list and not currently approved for therapeutic use in Humans by the governmental regulatory health authority (e.g. drugs in preclinical or clinical development or that are no longer available, tailored drugs, substances approved only for veterinary uses) is permanently prohibited.

S1. Anabolic agents

S2. Peptide hormones, growth factors, related substances and mimetics

S3. Beta-2-agonists

S4. Hormone and metabolic modulators

S5. Diuretics and masking agents

Do not trivialize any drug, and take only what was prescribed by your doctor

Athletes are subject to sports disciplinary and criminal sanctions.

Rules for doping-free sports

Respect the specificities of your sport by developing the required abilities to perform

Follow an individualised and progressive approach by setting appropriate training load and performance goals for you abilities

Follow overall physical training to prepare your body to the expected exertion

Observe periods of recovery, essential to the adaptation process of your body

Respect your body and use a training programme with reasonable and reasoned goals

Follow a sport-specific diet, associated with appropriate hydration

Doping traps

« Being doped without knowing it! »

Only take approved medications recommended by your doctor or pharmacist

Never buy medications on the internet

Never use dietary supplements, fortifying complexes or ergogenic products without ensuring that they do not contain any prohibited substances

How to buy sports nutrition products

You should trust the brands that are distributed in France. If you buy on the internet, prefer the French websites or the websites of brands that are well-known in France. Never buy a product if you don't know where it comes from.

Doping controls

All competitor athletes who are licensed members of a sports federation are subject to undergo doping controls, whether during competition or during training. You must therefore comply with the law, even if you don't do sports at a high level.

Applicable sanctions

Athletes are subject to sports disciplinary and criminal sanctions.

Sports sanctions:

  • temporary or permanent sports suspension
  • prohibition of teaching sports for a similar duration
  • more serious sanctions if the offence is repeated

Criminal sanctions:

  • financial penalty and jail sentence

Applicable to both the athlete and his/her relatives. The penalties are increased in case of incitement of a minor to doping. Significant penalties for doping products trafficking

Where to find information? the toolbox      Provides articles and a leaflet in its online shop

regional medical units for doping prevention


Docteur Patrick Bacquaert

Médecin chef de l'IRBMS

former member of the French Anti-doping Commission

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