Consequences of doping

Athletes take a huge risk when they take prohibited substances or use banned methods, and there are financial, legal, social and especially health consequences to take into consideration.



Physical: The effect on an athlete’s health can be severe, depending on the substance, dose and regularity of use, and the damage done to the body cannot be reversed in many cases. Certain side-effects can even be life-threatening.


Mental: Many doping substances are not only harmful to the body, they can also affect and impair the mind, with effects ranging from anxiety and hallucinations to permanent psychosis having been scientifically linked to doping.



A positive test can have a significant effect on an athlete’s entire life, because as well as being dangerous to one’s health, doping can result in a loss of standing, respect and credibility, and often, the media and public will not believe a negative test in the future. A bad image sticks in the consciousness, and the athlete becomes isolated. However, doping offenders cheat not only other people, but themselves, too.


Particularly at elite level, violating anti-doping rules incurs financial losses, and sponsors have to be refunded and prize monies returned. Bans of several years or even life mean that offenders cannot continue to live in the manner to which they are accustomed, and in the worst-case scenario, they will fall into debt as ongoing costs still have to be paid or high repayments made.


Legal consequences


Doping can have far-reaching legal consequences – offenders face being banned from sporting competitions and organised training. As a rule, bans last for at least several months and if the athlete reoffends, potentially for life.

In football, the whole team can be banned if several players test positive. At the 1994 World Cup in the USA, for example, Diego Maradona was excluded from further tournaments after testing positive for ephedrine. In some countries, doping offenders can even be prosecuted outside their sport and face imprisonment.


Doping offences – more than a case of prohibited substances or methods

Bans and other far-reaching consequences result from testing positive, but there are also other ways of infringing anti-doping rules, such as:

  • Missing tests (a maximum of three times) with doping control officers
  • Failing to provide general whereabouts information every three months
  • Whereabouts failures through ignorance
  • Refusing a control
  • Non-availability for the officers
  • Failing to follow the officers’ instructions during the control
  • Engaging in or attempting to engage in fraudulent conduct during the control
  • Possessing prohibited substances or passing on a prohibited substance
  • Working with or encouraging a third party to violate anti-doping rules