A brief history of doping tests

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A brief history of doping tests

The author is the sports team editor of the Joongang Ilbo.

French doctor Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard (1817-94) made a shocking claim at the French Biology Society in June 1889. He said he injected an extract from a dog and guinea pig testicle into himself and that it had rejuvenated him. He was 72 years old at the same time.

He said his strength from the youth returned. Brown-Sequard’s claim evolved into studies on extracts from bovine testicles, which led to the discovery of testosterone in 1936.

Testosterone, a male sex hormone, is a kind of steroid. The name was coined by combining Latin words “testis” and “sterol.” It increases muscle development in our bodies, and is called “anabolic steroid.” Focusing on this function, the anabolic steroid was used to increase athletic capability in Europe at first. American pharmaceutical company CIBA developed a steroid drug with less side effects and presented a product named “Dianabol” in 1960. In the late 60s, many athletes used the product.

In sports, another drug widely used along with anabolic steroids were amphetamines. Made in the United States in 1933, it stimulates the central nervous system and enhances physical capability and activities. In August 1960, Danish cyclist Knud Enemak Jensen died while participating in the 100-kilometer (62-mile) road race of the Summer Olympics in Rome. Initially, amphetamine overuse was named as the cause of his death. While the final report indicated the main cause was a heatstroke, it served as a chance to advocate a ban on athletes’ drug use and the need for a doping test. In 1967, the International Olympic Committee established a medical committee for doping control, and the committee announced a list of banned drugs. Such tests were implemented at the 1968 Winter Olympics.

Suddenly, doping tests emerged as a presidential election issue in the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Sept. 27 that he was strongly demanding a doping test on Joe Biden before or after the presidential debate on Sept. 29 and that he would also get tested. It did not happen. But Trump argued that as Biden’s debate was not consistent, he suspected drugs played a role for the discrepancy. Perhaps, that could be the secret to Trump’s absurd behaviors and harsh remarks that transcend my imagination.
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