Doping in Sports in Ancient and Recent Times


  • Andrea A Conti Department of Medical and Surgical Critical Area, University of Florence, Italian Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, Florence, I


Doping , Sports , Medicine , History of Medicine


Doping in sports is the use of forbidden techniques and/or the assumption of prohibited substances by athletes in order to increase physical performances. The origin of the word doping is today still discussed; however some sources indicate that an African tribe, the Kaffirs, gave the name of “dop” to a beverage that was largely consumed in religious ceremonies as a stimulant drink. Diet modifications were among the most widely used procedures to increase physical performance in sports in the classical world. Beside diet measures, the assumption of “magical” potions deriving from the vegetable and animal realms to improve physical fitness and sportive performance is documented both in ancient Greece and Rome. The composition of these preparations is not yet fully clear, but they probably contained stimulants such as alcohol or hallucinating mushrooms. Vegetal stimulants were largely used in the nineteenth century, a period in which pharmacology and laboratory medicine were established and achieved remarkable scientific results. In the twentieth century different chronological and operative phases may be detected in the evolution of doping practices. To prevent these practices, from the sixties an intense struggle against doping in sports was begun at an international level. Doping in sports is unfair with respect to competitors and dangerous for health.