Doping is the use of banned athletic drugs by athletic competitors to enhance sporting performance and stamina. It is both a moral and an ethical wrong. Though doping seems to be a fancy and quick way to beat the competitors, its long-term side effects are skin-crawling including heart diseases, stroke, pulmonary embolism etc. Doping laws are outlined both… Read More »

Doping is the use of banned athletic drugs by athletic competitors to enhance sporting performance and stamina. It is both a moral and an ethical wrong. Though doping seems to be a fancy and quick way to beat the competitors, its long-term side effects are skin-crawling including heart diseases, stroke, pulmonary embolism etc.

Doping laws are outlined both at the National and International levels, however, these laws are consistently in contention with one another as there is no coordination between them.


An increase in the number of competitions and unparallel expectations have put the competitors under a gigantic amount of pressure. To battle this pressing factor, they often resort to Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED), usually alluded to as doping.

Doping in the games field is a disagreeable issue as it strikes at the soul of reasonable play and hampers the soul of sportsmanship. The utilization of PEDs is restricted as it is viewed as unscrupulous and it likewise antagonistically influences the physical and emotional well-being of the competitors.

International Olympic Committee regards doping as unlawful and unethical and its aim is a dope free sport [1].

The International Anti-Doping authorities choose and announce the restricted rundown of substances and the utilization of such substances and strategies add up to doping. Doping is not a novel phenomenon though its use has been alarmingly increasing in recent times. It is neither a local issue as doping can be found in various sports competitions around the world.

It dates as far back as the ancient Greek Olympics in 3rd Century BC, Greek Olympic athletes were professionals who competed not only for glory but also for large cash prizes much like modern-day professional athletes these monetary prizes, incentives vice the Greek athletes to experiment with a variety of performance-enhancing substances in an effort to beat their competition they use a variety of herbal actions like wine, halo genic mushrooms and even animal testicles believing that it would make them faster and stronger although there were strict rules against cheating in ancient Olympic Games punishable by enslavement[2].

In 1998, an enormous number of restricted clinical substances were found by police in a raid during the Tour-de-France. This embarrassment featured the requirement for an autonomous global office that would set bound together guidelines against doping work and facilitate the endeavours of sports associations and public specialists.

The International Olympic Committee stepped up and met the First World Conference on Doping in Sport in February 1999, deducing in the establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency (the “WADA”) on tenth November 1999[3].

Anti-doping agencies and regulations:

Endeavours to battle the dangers of doping have been made since 1960, however more genuine attempts were made in the 21st century with the establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency by the International Olympic Committee. In the year 2004, the World Anti-Doping Code was first carried out, after which it has been changed a few times to address the difficulties of the steadily developing progressions in sports.

WADA guarantees the implementation of the a and furthermore arranges with Regional Anti-Doping Organizations to assist different nations with creating their own code consistent with the anti-doping system, so competitors of the countries overall are exposed to similar anti-doping guidelines and conventions.

What’s more, another significant capacity of WADA is teaching and spreading awareness among the competitors in regards to the antagonistic impacts of doping[4].

UNESCO, with the end goal of successful execution of the Code, adopted the International Convention Against Doping in Sport (ICAD) in the year 2005, in which more than 170 nations signed for applying the power of International Law to battle the danger of doping in sports.

India has additionally endorsed the ICADS in the year 2007 and to satisfy the commitments of the ICADS, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has set up the National Anti-Doping Agency. It was set up with the target of executing the Code consistent with hostility to doping rules and guidelines in India.

To teach and create awareness among the competitors in regards to doping, NADA additionally fostered a broad schooling program, to be specific Mass Athlete Awareness Program Against Doping.

National Anti-Doping Agency and Challenges

The Government of India set up the National Anti-Doping Agency of India (the “NADA“) as a registered society on 24th November 2005 as it’s a signatory to the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping and the UNESCO International Convention against Doping.

The National Anti-Doping Agency is responsible for promoting, coordinating and monitoring the doping control programme in sports in the country.[5]

One of their major roles to perform is the administering of tests on the athletes and ensure they are on no illegal or body/stamina enhancing drugs.

Sadly, these Anti-Doping Rules were received by NADA in verbatim without thinking about the real factors on the ground in India.

The anti-doping rules place strict liability on athletes that they have to keep themselves up to date about substances that enter their body, however, some sportspersons in India are not well educated or aware about such substances or even about doping[6].

Also, the common intention of most of the athletes in India behind taking up sports is because of the benefits such as government jobs through sports quotas and out of passion or for leisure. Because of these reasons, the absence of awareness with respect to the doping norms of NADA isn’t a big shock.

When athletes join training camps for several months, where they reside and take coaching, the camps are responsible for their food and supplements and the athletes cannot be expected to monitor or refuse the food being provided to them in these camps. However, this is a huge loophole in the legislation and inserts additional pressure on the competitors[7].

Many of the common drugs that competitors intake or use such as painkillers and cough syrups contain a certain amount of the redistricted substances resulting in incidents of doping as the competitors lack the knowledge.

Moreover, the competitor is expected to conduct research prior to consuming any supplement or medicinal drugs. However, there are only a few laboratories in India that carry out such specific tests on supplements also the expense of carrying out such tests are high.

In the National Anti-Doping Agency v Jyotsana Pansare[8], the banned substance entered into the body of the athlete through a beauty product that contained germanium oil, thus an adverse analytical finding.

Another hostile issue is that of NADA’s tutelage. Its instructive projects are provided in English, which may not be comprehended by the majority as the statistical data show that most of the athletes are from rural areas.

What occurs next is that players don’t have a clue about the systems and the rights to challenge cases before the disciplinary boards. Because of the dread of tough discipline, they are constrained to relinquish their right of reasonable hearing.

In 2011, a council was shaped by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports after a doping outrage was featured in which six Indian competitors were included. The Committee offered blistering comments on NADA and gave potential answers for the issues. In 2015 additionally, NADA has neglected to carry out the vast majority of the ideas of the panel and kept on working in an uninspiring way.

Additionally, there is a pressing need to get rid of the current disposition of NADA’s Disciplinary Tribunals as they don’t often provide an opportunity for fair trial and are unfavourably influenced by the postpones caused simultaneously.

Should Doping Be Legalised?

It’s indeed a fair question to ask if doping should be legalised in India. Despite the differing opinions, it has been widely acknowledged that doping should not be legalised but it’s high time that the anti-doping laws be reformed.

Some say physiological doping should be allowed putting limits on hormone level and red blood cells count and testing whether those levels are correct.

However, the ‘not so rich’ countries would be at a great disadvantage if this is allowed as the rich countries can easily provide doping substances of high quality which may not even be detected in clinical tests.

In my opinion, just like how caffeine is not considered a doping drug, relaxations can be given to those substances which are found in everyday items.

Prithvi Shaw Case Study

Prithvi Shaw was suspended from cricket after doping infringement. He made his debut against West Indies in 2018 and he scored his maiden century and became the youngest batsman to make a Test century on debut for India[9].

It was found that he had taken a cough syrup which contained a drug prohibited by WADA and was banned for 8 months.

The drug terbutaline is found in few cough syrups, which makes a person less tiresome and also help build muscle in an athlete. Terbutaline is one of the banned drugs of WADA as it increases muscle strength and is generally used to treat issues relating to breathing however it can be taken by an athlete if there is an excuse of its therapeutic use.

But the exemption certificate was not produced by him in advance.


It is clear from the above discussion that Anti-Doping laws in India are quite inadequate. Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh are the only two states where there is a functional Sports Law at present. This situation must change and effective laws are the need of the hour.

The regulations imposed by NADA needs rampant reforms and measures must be taken to educate the athletes about doping and their rights. A list of prohibited substances given by WADA must be provided by NADA to the athletes in regional languages.

The entire approach adopted by NADA should be changed to support and encourage athletes rather than destroying their career with intolerable and unfair trials. We find pride in the medals won by these athletes due to their hard work and perseverance hence it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure them a safe and alert environment for their growth as well.

[1] Bharti Sharma, A Critical Analysis of the Impact of Doping in Sports Domain, Available Here

[2] Id

[3] Solomon & Co, India: Anti-Doping Regulations In India, Available Here

[4] WADA, What We Do, Available Here

[5] NADA, National Anti-Doping Agency, Available Here

[6] WADA, Strict Liability In Anti-Doping, Available Here

[7] Supra Note 4

[8] Appeal No. 13. ADAP.2012

[9] Supra Note 1

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Updated On 17 Jun 2021 4:12 AM GMT
Rajeswari Rajesh

Rajeswari Rajesh

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