The use of performance-enhancing drugs in competitive sports is a practice that goes back centuries, possibly to the creation of sports as a concept. Doping was already common in the ancient Olympics in Greece and even chariot racers in ancient Rome drank herbal infusions before their races. Scandinavian mythology says that Berserker fighters drank a mushroom mixture called ‘butotens’ that increased their physical strength at the risk of insanity.
Doping is now prohibited by most international sports organisations, who consider the use of drugs to be unethical and against the ‘spirit of sport’. Measures against doping are taken very seriously, as it has been demonstrated by the shock four-year ban that has been imposed on Russia.
Worldwide Anti-Doping Agency Wada found Russia’s National anti-doping agency non-compliant for manipulating laboratory results. This means that the Russian flag and anthem will not be allowed at international events like the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar. Russian athletes who can prove they weren’t involved in the doping scandal will still be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said the country had 21 days to appeal against the ban. Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that although doping problems exist in the country, the ban was part of ‘chronic anti-Russian hysteria’ and he added that athletes involved in doping practices had already been sanctioned by the country.