18 September 2017 – Doping refers to an athlete’s use of prohibited drugs or methods to improve training and sporting results. Steroids are the drugs that often come to mind when we talk about doping, but doping also includes an athlete’s use of other forbidden drugs (such as stimulants, hormones, diuretics, narcotics and marijuana), use of forbidden methods (such as blood transfusions or gene doping), and even the refusal to take a drug test or an attempt to tamper with doping controls.
All sport codes including football is governed by World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), which is a global organization and South African Institute for Drug Free Sports (SAIDS). These two organizations are responsible for ensuring that no athlete/team gets unfair advantage over the other due to doping. The objective is a drug free and fair play.
We have noticed through a random survey that most of our players use supplements for different reasons. Sometimes prizes, money or fame can cause people to make bad decisions. They are told that supplements might give them a boost, provide a shortcut to long years of training or help them win. And they are prepared to risk their sporting careers and their health – they are prepared to win at all cost! Others feel pressure from coaches, parents or themselves to be the best. They see supplements as a way to meet these expectations.
Some athletes use supplements to overcome an injury. Trainers or coaches might say that drugs can make you forget about the pain or may help speed up recovery, but they often do not mention the health risks and that some supplements contain banned substances. Whatever the reason, there is no excuse for doping.
It is true that supplements can help athletes to build strength and muscle, reduce tiredness or cover pain, but it has bad side effects too. Some supplements can lead to obvious changes in appearance. For example, steroid use can cause acne, particularly on the back. In boys it can shrink testicles, cause impotence and baldness, and girls can develop a deeper voice and facial hair. There can be even more serious side effects. Some supplements can cause heart, liver and kidney problems and has even killed some athletes.
There are many types of drugs that are banned in football because of the damage they can do to an athlete’s health and to fair play. Every year a new list of banned drugs is prepared by the World Anti-Doping Agency and it is available on the WADA website. These drugs fall within the following categories:
- Stimulantsmay increase concentration and reduce tiredness, but they can also damage the heart;
- Steroidscan increase muscle and strength, but they harm the heart, liver and reproductive system and can cause sudden death;
- Hormonescan have a variety of useful medical purposes, but they can be harmful when you are young and still growing;
- Diureticsmay help with weight loss but they cover up the use of other banned drugs and can cause dehydration and fatigue;
- Narcoticscan relieve pain but this could lead to a lasting injury;
- Cannabinoids(hashish, marijuana) can act as relaxants, but may also lead to a loss of coordination and concentration.
Even if you take something by accident it is still considered doping. Ultimately, you (athlete) are responsible for everything that goes into your body. Be sure to avoid any drugs that are not prescribed by a sports Physician who knows that you are an athlete. Some drugs or supplements from the pharmacy or supermarket can contain banned substances even if their labels state that the product is ‘all natural’. Some products may be even contaminated during the manufacturing process. Thus SAFA has taken a stand that athletes must avoid the use of supplements due to the doping risks rather settle for good dietary plan.
Should it happen than you need medicine for a health problem, there are ways to ensure that the medicine you take does not impact on your ability to play sport. For example, if you need asthma medicine, your team doctor can give you a form to allow you to use this medicine and to play sport. This is called a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption).
To be successful in football, you need the right attitude. Honesty, dignity, fair play, respect, teamwork, commitment and courage are essential to a memorable football performance. All these values can be summed up in the term ‘fair play’. Fair play has to do with the choices you make – what is right and wrong. People will notice how you play the game. You will get a reputation for being a good or a bad footballer which will follow you around long after you have retired. It can shape how people act towards you before they even get to know you. To conform with the spirit of football and build a good reputation, always:
- show respect for yourself and for others (players, referees and officials);
- respect the rules of the competition and of fair play;
- be gracious as much in victory as in defeat;
- have fun and enjoy being part of the action!
Football has little meaning without fair play. We play football because of the chance to show our unique talents, to share, to make a living, to make friends and to have fun. Fair play makes all this possible.
As you get older and get better at football it is likely that you will be tested for doping. These tests are aimed at preserving the spirit of football by catching the cheats. Testing can take place during a competition, during training, or in the off-season and will generally be given without forewarning. If you refuse to take a test or to follow the testing procedures, you will receive the same sanction as a footballer who tests positive.
These tests are done by a certified Doping Control Officer (DCO) who collects a urine sample. In some cases, both a blood sample and urine sample is required. Samples are sent to an approved lab for analysis. Some drugs can be detected in very small amounts and months after they have been taken. Evidence of the use of some other drugs can be found as a result of the changes they cause inside the body.
Footballers caught cheating by doping will be banned from sport in general. Imagine not being able to play any sport for a two-year period or for the rest of your life. After all your training, the closest you would get to sport would be from the sidelines or the stands. There is also a great deal of shame associated with being caught doping. Try explaining to your friends, teammates or parents that you have been cheating by doping.
Nobody wants to be thought of as a drug cheat, therefore always make the right choices because at the end of the day you are responsible for everything that goes into your body.