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A short doping history

Performance-enhancing substances have been used in societies from time immemorial. This was described as early as 5000 years ago by Shen Nung, Chinese emperor around 2800 BC, and venerated as the Father of Chinese Medicine. He is believed to have introduced the technique of acupuncture. The first written record about herbal medicine was compiled in 1065-771 BC, Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao Ching, “Divine Husbandman’s Classic of Materia Medica”, the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeia. In ancient Greece different fungi poisons were used.

The word “doping” is believed to originate from the dutch language, where “doop” means sauce and the verb “doopen” means to dip, or immerse. It is known that the boers dipped bread in strong drinks before tough hardships. Within cycling – where the battle against doping in sports was initiated – deaths as a fatal consequence of doping were described as early as 1886. In the 1950’s, pharmaceutical companies developed anabolic androgen steroids (AAS) with the idea of finding a substance to treat weight loss in cancer patients. It was soon discovered that AAS were equally useful in other areas. In sports, AAS were first used by athletes involving physical strength such as weight-lifting. Many fields of application and many stories can be found when looking into history.

If you want to learn more, click our bibliography, "Forskning och fördjupning" on the swedish site, where you can find several titles in English.