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Drug Testing in Sports

Due to their constant presence in the limelight, athletes experience increased societal pressures to consistently perform at their best. This pressure leads some athletes to abuse certain drugs, also called “doping” in sports. These drugs include legal and illegal substances that are often performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and confer athletes an unfair competitive advantage in a sport. Read more about drug testing in sports.

Drug testing athletes through either saliva, urine, or blood is common and ensures that banned substances, including illegal drugs, are not abused by athletes. Each sports organization has its own set of rules regarding substances that athletes can not use. Some of the most commonly abused drugs include marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, ephedra, human growth hormone (HGH), and steroids.

When Did Drug Testing in Sports?

The use of drugs by athletes is not a new phenomenon. Records of ancient Olympic Greek athletes used mixtures of wine and brandy with plants, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and seeds to enhance athletic performance and even mask the pain from injuries.

This practice prevailed through millennia. Doping was common for many athletes in the first half of the 20th century. Many instances of cocaine, caffeine, heroin, and other substances in high-level athletes were reported in the 1920s. The first recorded instance of drug testing in professional sports was in the European Championships of 1966. In 1968 the International Olympics Committee (IOC) enforced drug tests in Winter and Summer Olympics. A few years later, the use of anabolic steroids became more prevalent.

Drug tests caught up and the detection of steroids became standard practice in 1976. The 80’s followed with a large international anti-doping effort and collaboration by sports authorities and governmental agencies. By 1999 the IOC brought about the first “World Conference on Doping in Sport” and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was born. WADA is now the standard for international drug testing in sports and has a comprehensive list of prohibited substances.

Why Test for Drugs in Sports?

All athletes competing in any sport that is accredited by a national governing body are tested. Athlete testing for the purposes of illegal drug use helps prevent cheating in a sport due to the use of PEDs, identifies individuals who have substance abuse issues, and keeps athletes safe and healthy. To preserve the integrity of sports and maintain the health and safety of athletes the following drugs are the most tested for in sports:

Anabolic Agents/Steroids:

These are variations of the testosterone / male sex hormone. “Anabolic” means that they are “muscle building”, which enhances sports performance, and thus, fair play is violated. They can cause injury to the heart muscles, liver damage, and cause hormonal changes in both men and women. They also pose mental health issues such as depression during withdrawal and aggression with the use.

Peptide Hormones:

Potentially enhance the performance of athletes. Serious side effects and even death may arise from use.


Some athletes use stimulants to decrease tiredness and increase competitiveness, alertness, aggression, and increase the intensity of a competition or training session. Additionally, the use of stimulants during strenuous exercise in hot weather may cause heat stress and heart issues. In most instances, prescription stimulants for the management of ADHD must be reported with medical documentation, and approval is required.


Diuretics (water pills) and other masking agents are misused to rapidly change weights to give a performance advantage in many sports. They are also used to quickly excrete (eliminate) other banned substances through urine. These may cause dehydration which hinders athletic performance and can be dangerous.


Mask to use of steroids, so legitimate medical documentation is required for use.

Beta-2 Agonists:

Enhance performance, so are only allowed when used for the treatment of asthma.

Street Drugs:

Illegal and harmful to athletic performance and health.


Dehydrates and harmful to athletes.

At What Level is Drug Testing in Sports Done?

All sports levels commonly test athletes for drugs, including Olympic, professional, college, and high school sports. For example, to preserve the integrity of college sports and the health and safety of athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tests for peptide hormones, anabolic agents (steroids), diuretics / masking agents, beta-2 agonists, and anti-estrogens all year. They also test for recreational drugs and stimulants during championship competitions.

Drug Testing in Sports


Where Can I Buy a Drug Test Kit?

12 Panel Now carries an array of drugs test kits such as urine drug test kits and drug test pee cups. Several of the drug tests sold by 12 Panel Now, such as the 14 Panel Drug Test Cup with EtG and FYL possess the ability to test for alcohol use. Additionally, cheating drug tests are made even harder with the 12-Panel Drug Test Cup which detects adulterants and manipulations of urine samples.


Fighting “doping” and illegal substance abuse in sports through random and surprise testing does not need to have a burdensome financial cost. 12 Panel Now offers the most affordable drug testing supplies in the country.

Time Efficient

Traditionally, blood, urine, or saliva are collected and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Test results are then reported to the sport’s governing body. If a positive result ensues, the athlete is either suspended or banned from the sport. This process is sometimes lengthy, but it does not have to be. With 12 Panel Now, urine cup drug test results are available on the spot after just a few minutes of wait time. No laboratory is required for result analysis.


The CLIA-waived drug test cups are easily performed without the supervision of clinicians or laboratory technicians.

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