Gateway has been providing lifesaving addiction medicine to people of all backgrounds for more than 50 years. With over a million patients treated, we have built up expertise to handle addictions of all types with compassion and efficacy. When an athlete enters a state of full-fledged addiction, they are in the grip of a chronic disease that leads to compulsive drug-seeking behavior, continued use despite health consequences and long-term changes to brain structure and function. Prescription opioids provide a particularly slippery slope, as addiction to them can quickly lead to athletes turning to cheaper illicit opioids such as heroin. About 80% of people who use heroin used and abused prescription opioids first. There is slim shelter from the constant, intense pressure to perform better in any competitive sport, get faster, and become stronger.

The infamous “Pot Belge” or “Belgian mix” has a decades-long history in pro cycling, among both riders and support staff. David Millar, the 2003 World-Time Trial Champion, admitted using EPO, and was stripped of his title and suspended for two years. Roberto Heras was stripped of his victory in the 2005 Vuelta a España and suspended for two years after testing positive for EPO.

Rates of Recreational Drug Abuse Among Athletes

Ongoing development of rapid point-of-care urine tests for detecting commonly abused prescription medications, including oxycodone, methadone, opiates, benzodiazepines, and buprenorphine is also likely to fuel growth. Ensure your athletes are making the best possible decisions in regards to banned substances or drugs with Drug Free Sport AXIS™, our comprehensive athlete nutrition, health and wellness subscription service. AXIS is the most reliable drug and supplement education resource available and is the only trusted advisor to the NCAA, the NAIA, the PGA Tour, the LPGA and more.

In 1954, on his tour to Vienna with his team for the world championship, Ziegler learned from his Russian colleague that the Soviet weightlifting team’s success was due to their use of testosterone as a performance-enhancing drug. Deciding that U.S. athletes needed chemical assistance to remain competitive, Ziegler worked with the CIBA Pharmaceutical Company to develop an oral anabolic steroid. This resulted in the creation of methandrostenolone, which appeared on the market in 1960 under the brand name Dianabol. During the Olympics that year, the Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen collapsed and died while competing in the 100-kilometer (62-mile) race. An autopsy later revealed the presence of amphetamines and a drug called nicotinyl tartrate in his system.

Competition manipulation: risks and prevention

Use of marijuana either recreational or medical is legal in certain states. However, it is still illegal at the federal level and this factor can complicate things for athletes coming from these states who may have been using marijuana within their legal guidelines. Increasing consumption of illicit drugs among the young population is one of the vital factors that is projected to boost the global sports drug testing market growth in future. High crime rates related to drug abuse are also set to spur the adoption of novel drug-testing devices in various parts of the globe.

sports and drug

While the stereotypical drug abuser may not seem like a high-profile athlete, drug use among athletes is common. Many famous athletes in nearly every sport have fought public battles with different types of substance abuse disorder. Addiction in sports affects both men and women and all ages, skill levels, and nationalities. Currently modafinil is being used throughout the sporting world, with many high-profile cases attracting press coverage as prominent United States athletes have failed tests for this substance. Modafinil was added to the list of prohibited substances on 3 August 2004, ten days before the start of the 2004 Summer Olympics.


The World Anti-Doping Code Prohibited List is an International Standard. The List groups substances and methods by those that are banned at all times (in and out of competition), those that are banned in-competition only, and those that are banned by a particular sport. If an athlete has a legitimate medical reason to use one of the banned agents, a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) may be granted only after extensive review. This List was originally published in 1963 under the direction of the International Olympic Committee. As of 2004, the World Anti-Doping Agency is in charge of updating and publishing the List each year.

sports and drug

Whether or not a performance-enhancing drug is legal or illegal depends on the substance. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) provides a list of drugs that it prohibits. provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products.

Suspensions related to substance abuse saw a sharp uptick in the NFL beginning in 2012, jumping to 82 suspensions in 2012 from 21 suspensions in 2011. Note that, in the map below, ‘third strikes’ are calculated as 16-game bans. This represents the minimum term for a third offense under the NFL’s old drug use in sports policy, which was replaced in 2014. Notice that roughly half of these suspensions are attributed to “undisclosed” substances. For first offenses, the Commissioner’s Office often keeps the substance involved undisclosed, putting the onus on the player to withhold or share that information with fans.

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