King's College London
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Faster & fairer - science & sport at King's College London

The need to stop cheating

Drug Control CentreDrug Control CentreThe need to stop cheating in sport requires effective testing for substances that enhance performance or that mask drugs that enable athletes to run faster or with greater endurance.

Drugs have been used for more than 100 years to improve athletic performance - early examples included alcohol and strychnine and even cocaine and heroin.

The problem became more acute during the 1930s with the introduction of amphetamines. The 1950s witnessed the growing availability of new steroid drugs.

Misuse of substances was believed to be widespread at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and following incidents such as the death of the cyclist, Tommy Simpson, during the 1967 Tour de France, due in part to his use of amphetamines, national governments and sports' governing bodies began to take action.

The International Olympic Committee introduced the first systematic screening for drugs at the Mexico City games in 1968 but it was not until the 1980s and 90s that more reliable technology permitted a strategic approach to tackling the problem, exemplified by the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 1999.

King's College London made an early intervention into this area in 1978 in associationwith the Sports Council by establishing the original Drug Control and Teaching Centre at King's. This was the first ever human sports drug-testing laboratory set up outside an Olympic Games.

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