Doping in the United States

Doping, or the use of restricted performance-enhancing drugs in the United States has a systemic nature, most notably in the sports of baseball and football.

History

Restrictions regarding drug use like synthetic hormones by athletes for enhanced performance in competition did not come around until the 20th century. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) established its initial list of prohibited substances in 1967 and introduced the first drug tests at the France and Mexico Olympic games in 1968.[1] Thirty years later, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was founded. WADA was founded at a time when individual governments, sport federations, and the IOC all had differing definitions, policies, and sanctions for doping. WADA bridged these differences by setting unified anti-doping standards and coordinating the efforts of sports organizations and public authorities worldwide.[1]

The United States, a WADA Foundation Board Member, followed suit by establishing the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2000. USADA is recognized by the United States Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American and eight anti-doping rules within the Code, which range from presence of a prohibited substance in an athlete’s test sample to administering or attempting to administer a prohibited substance or method to an athlete. As of December 19, 2008, the Code banned 192 performance-enhancing drugs, substances, and methods.[2]

Similar to the definitional disputes the international community faced in the 1990s, national professional sports leagues in the U.S. approach anti-doping policy differently and independently of U.S. government regulation, WADA guidelines, and one another. They do not have the same list of banned substances or tests they require players to abide by, may not provide tests or sanctions for use of some prohibited substances, and negotiate their anti-doping policies with their respective players associations through collective bargaining.[3]

In 2005, the hearings were held, most notably with MLB, the National Football League (NFL), and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Each league’s anti-drug policy was compared to that of the IOC, and each fell short of the IOC requirements.[3] Response to the congressional investigation by sports league representatives resulted largely with push back and a “we can police our own” mentality, but the Committee felt differently and introduced the Clean Sports Act—one of six bills introduced that year in both chambers[4] —addressing the need to adopt uniform national anti-drug policy standards among professional sports leagues that are consistent with, and as stringent as, those enforced by the USADA. While most of the bills were voted out of committee, none were enacted. As of 2013, professional sports leagues continue to negotiate their anti-doping policies privately through collective bargaining.

Olympics

United States has had 8 Olympic medals stripped for doping violations. In the case of Rick DeMont, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has recognized his gold medal performance in the 1972 Summer Olympics in 2001,[5] but only the IOC has the power to restore his medal, and it has as of 2017 refused to do so.[5]

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