Dopingsünder | Word of the Week | DW | 24.07.2012
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Word of the Week

Dopingsünder

Visit the dark side of competitive sport.

Dopingsünder literally means "doping sinner" and is applied to sportsmen and women found guilty of using banned performance-enhancing substances. While the colloquial term is relatively new, doping is most likely as old as competitive sport itself. In 1997, a study by the International Olympic Committee, titled "Historical Evolution of the Doping Phenomenon," cited the case of Welsh cyclist Arthur Linton as the first reported death of an athlete due to doping. He died after consuming a cocktail of cocaine, caffeine and strychnine in the Bordeaux-Paris race in 1896. Conflicting historical accounts indicate Linton actually died a few weeks later from a combination of exhaustion caused by drug-taking and typhoid fever. Linton was, however, managed by Choppy Warburton, a record-breaking runner and cycling coach notorious for pushing drug-taking in sport. He died of a heart attack in 1897.

Despite the risks, the list of Dopingsünder since the days of Arthur Linton and Choppy Warburton is long and matched by an equally long list of dubious excuses. The mountain biker Ivonne Kraft claimed her mother's asthma inhaler exploded in front of her and that she must have inhaled something in shock. Bobsleigh rider Lenny Paul claimed the meat used in spaghetti bolognese he ate must have come from hormone-filled cows, whereas sprinter Linford Christie insisted he'd just been eating too many avocados.

With the recent end of the 2012 Tour de France - an event plagued by serious doping scandals over the years - and the Olympic Games due to begin in London on July 27, doping is once again in the headlines. An unprecedented number of tests have and will be carried out among the London 2012 athletes to ensure the wellbeing of the athletes and uphold the integrity of the Games.

Author: Helen Whittle
Editor: Kate Bowen

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