PEDs at the Olympics: the story behind steroids

8 Aug 2016

With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in full swing, the air of drugs suspicion around the global sporting event just won’t go away.

Russian revelations ahead of Rio 2016 were somehow both shocking and expected, with drugs scandals having rocked so many sports and major events in recent times.


Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is an umbrella term for any number of ‘medicines’ that sportspeople can take to get an edge.

Chemistry plays a huge role on both sides of the regulation battle. On one side are officials and scientists, aiming to keep the competitions fair; on the other side are no end of stakeholders, creating new drugs to cheat the system.

Steroids, for a long time, were the (incorrect) shorthand for this. But do you really know how they work?

The non-profit American Chemical Society has produced a fine short video on the effect steroids have on human physiology, and why they, in particular, are sometimes relied upon by athletes.

Away from the pharmaceutical changes affecting sport, we recently wrote of the dramatic technological advancements that have taken place throughout the history of the Games.

Swimsuits and TVs in the pool, tracking cameras in diving and even starting mechanisms on the track have all brought sport along to a huge degree.

For Ireland’s part, the use of data analytics is one of the preferred routes to medal success.

Main athlete image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic