Doping in the sport for persons with disability 3. 3. 6

Author: Ladislav Mesarič

Keywords: doping, technodoping, bosting, self-harm

Most athletes who take part in adapted sports activities compete ethically and use the approved methods to improve sports performance. Improving the results is achieved through training that takes into account scientific knowledge in the field of sports training. People, like in all areas of life, as well as in adapted sports, are looking for shortcuts to succeed. The reasons for this are recognition and publicity (in particular, the Olympic Games), financial benefits from sponsors and state grants, and the human desire to be better than others, albeit in an illegal way.

There are many known cases of doping. In parallel with the development of methods for the detection of doping in sport, even in the early 1980s, doping controls were also conducted in competitions for persons with disabilities (Hale, 2016).

The use of doping in the Olympic and Paralympic athletes does not differ significantly. As a rule, there is an increase in power and endurance. There are also similar sanctions, which include disqualification, repossession of awards and all the benefits that they have been given after winning the medal (Collier, 2008)

However, in adapted sports activities, there are certain characteristics that are specific for athletes with physical and mental disabilities.

Different technology

Athletes from countries with advanced technology and better economic standards have access to a better technology that allows them greater competitiveness. This can lead to an unequal position among competitors (Guerrero et al., 2018). Some people call it techno doping (Bolta, 2016).

Increasing of blood pressure (Bosting)

Another form of “cheating” is encountered in some athletes with spinal cord injuries who want to increase their blood pressure and thereby improve their performance. Due to the nature of the spinal cord injury, some athletes do not feel the parts of their body. If the body is damaged in areas where there is no sense, a physiological response, known as autonomic dyslexia, is triggered. In order to speed up this response, some athletes deliberately harm themselves. Self-harm is, for example, fracture, causing pressure due to very tight clothing, overload of the bladder or in male sport - too tight clothing in the area of pelvis. These are very extreme behaviours, but they point to what all para athletes are willing to do to reach the desired result or success (Bolta 2016, Guerrero et al., 2018).

Different qualification systems are available in the sport of persons with disabilities. That enables equal and fair competitions for persons with different types and degrees of disability (Aleksandrović et al., 2016). Although the system is constantly improving, it may be controversial, because in some cases individuals simulate a lower level of ability. A well-known example is the Spanish basketball team where people without disabilities appeared and entered the competition due to inconsistent classification procedures (Bolta, 2016).


Aleksandrović, M., Jorgić, B., Mirić, F. (2016). Holistički pristup adaptivnom fizičkom vežbanju, učbenik za studente master akademskih studija. Fakultet sporta i fizičkog vaspitanja Niš

Bolta T.(2016) Paraolimpijske igre in Slovenci. Diplomsko delo, Fakulteta za šport, Ljubljana

Collier, R. (2008). Most Paralympians inspire, but others cheat. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 179(6), 524.

Guerrero L.A., Drakes S., De Luigi A.J. (2018) Controversies in Adaptive Sports. In: De Luigi A. (eds) Adaptive Sports Medicine. Springer, Cham

Hale L. (2016) A brief history of doping in disability sport. Retrieved from on 15.5.2018