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The word doping is probably derived from the Dutch word "dop", the name of an alcoholic beverage made of grape skins used by Zulu warriors in order to enhance their prowess in battle. The term became current around the turn of the 20th century, originally referring to illegal drugging of racehorses. The practice of enhancing performance through foreign substances or other artificial means, however, is as old as competitive sport itself.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari on the importance of anti-doping

Doping is the word used in sport when athletes use prohibited substances or methods to unfairly improve their sporting performance.

Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs)

Doping is defined as the occurrence of one or more of the following Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs):

  • presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in an athlete’s sample;
  • use or attempted use by an athlete of a prohibited substance or method;
  • evading, refusing, or failing to submit to sample collection by an athlete;
  • whereabouts failures by an athlete;
  • tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control by an athlete or other person;
  • possession of a prohibited substance or method by an athlete or athlete support person;
  • trafficking or attempted trafficking in any prohibited substance or method by an athlete or other person;
  • administration or attempted administration by an athlete or other person to any athlete in-competition of any prohibited substance or method; out-of-competition if the substance or method is prohibited out-of-competition;
  • complicity or attempted complicity by an athlete or other person;
  • prohibited association by an athlete or other person;
  • actions by an athlete or other person to discourage or retaliate against reporting to authorities, to frighten someone from reporting suspected doping or to revenge against those who have reported.

Why is doping in sport prohibited?

The use of doping substances or doping methods to enhance performance is fundamentally wrong and is detrimental to the overall spirit of sport. Drug misuse can be harmful to an athlete’s health and to other athletes competing in the sport. It severely damages the integrity, image and value of sport, whether or not the motivation to use drugs is to improve performance. To achieve integrity and fairness in sport, a commitment to clean sport is critical.

Level the playing field


The practice of doping in sport – the use of substances and artificial ways of enhancing performance – is possibly as old as organised sport itself. Even in Ancient Greece, athletes used special diets and stimulants to build strength, but it was not until the 1920s that it became clear that restrictions were needed on drug use in sport.

The first International Sport Federation to ban the use of stimulating substances was the International Association of Athletics Federations in 1928, paving the way for many other sports to follow in their footsteps. However, no testing was carried out at this time.

It was not until the death of Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen as he took part in the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, where the autopsy revealed traces of amphetamine, that pressure mounted for sports authorities to introduce drug testing.

Six years later, in 1966, the cycling and football federations (UCI and FIFA) introduced drug tests during their World Championships, pre-empting the first Olympic testing at the Grenoble Winter Games and the Olympics in Mexico, in 1968.

As for Gymnastics, the first in-competition doping controls were performed in 2004 by FIG and UEG, and out-of-competition testing started in 2005 by WADA.

What is WADA & what is it role?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999 as an independent international agency and is composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include in particular scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, investigations and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code and its application by Code signatories (International Federations, National Anti-Doping Organisations, Major Event Organisations, etc.).

What is WADA?

WADA possesses 5 Standing Committees that play a key advisory role in policy and priority development for the Agency and are crucial to advancing the Agency's mission for doping-free sport.
You can find more information on the Committees and on their explanation clicking here: membership of Standing Committees for 2021.

Athlete's Anti-Doping Rights Act

You can find the link to the Athlete's Anti-Doping Rights Act on the dedicated section "Documents & Regulations".

What is the role of the National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOS)?

NADOs are organizations designated by each country as possessing the primary authority and responsibility to adopt and implement national anti-doping rules, carry out anti-doping education, plan tests and adjudicate anti-doping rule violations at a national level. They may also test athletes from other countries competing within that nation’s borders.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has published a Guide for the Operational Independence of NADOs to support them in strengthening and reinforcing their operational independence as required by the revised World Anti-Doping Code.

Check the list of NADOs to find out who to contact in your country.

If a NADO has not been designated in a country, the National Olympic Committee (NOC) takes over these responsibilities. In a number of regions of the world, countries have pooled their resources together to create a Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) responsible for conducting anti-doping activities in the region in support of NADOs.

Check the list of RADOs.

RADOs bring together geographically-clustered countries where there are limited or no anti-doping activities. The RADOs provide anti-doping education for athletes, coaches and support personnel, testing of athletes, training of local personnel to undertake this task and an administrative framework to operate within.