Doping Sanctions in European Athletics: A Statistical Overview

European Athletics Championships in Rome is underway and we dived into the Anti-Doping Database to find statistics for doping Europe. One country stands out with 44% of the top 10 list of European countries we present in this article.


One country stands out in the list – Russia. The country leads this list with a significant margin, accounting for 452 doping sanctions – or more than 40% of the top ten countries in our list. This figure underscores the extensive scrutiny and numerous violations that have been part of Russia's sporting history, particularly in athletics.

The most used substance among the banned Russian athletes is Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (Oral Turinabol, DHCT). 62 athletes from Russia has been sanctioned after testing positive for this substance. The second most used is EPO (30) followed by Stanozolol (26).

Over the last ten years Russia has been involved in systemic doping scandals which surfaced with the Sample Swapping Scheme during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

France and Ukraine: Striving for Clean Competition

France and Ukraine follow with 110 and 97 sanctions, respectively. These numbers, while considerably lower than Russia's, still indicate notable challenges within these nations.

France's efforts to combat doping have been robust, but the presence of over a hundred sanctions shows there is still work to be done. 12 french athletes has been banned after testing positive for Cannabis. The same amount of athletes tested positive for Prednisolone. Heptaminol and EPO comes in third where both substances has been found in nine doping cases.

Ukraine's figures highlight a similar need for ongoing vigilance and improvement in their anti-doping measures. But unlike France, where there were few cases involving steroids, the top three cases for Ukraine are all steroids.

14 cases involves Testosterone and DHCT and Stanozolol was found in 12.


Italy and Spain: Host Nation in Focus

Italy, the host nation for this year's championships, has 96 sanctions recorded. As Italy welcomes athletes from across Europe, it also faces the spotlight on its own track record in anti-doping enforcement.

Betamethasone is the drug of choice by Italian athletes. The substance is the reason why nine athletes has been sidelined. EPO is involved in eight doping cases.

Clenbuterol has been found in samples collected from five athletes from Italy.

Spain, with 60 sanctions, rounds out the top five, emphasizing the widespread nature of doping issues across the continent.

It is EPO that is the most commonly used substance in the Spanish doping cases. Nine athletes were given long bans after testing positive for the blood boosting substance.

Nandrolone was the reason why four athletes were banned. Heptaminol and Cannabis sidelined three athletes each.

A Continental Challenge

The statistics from Belarus, the United Kingdom, Romania, Greece, and Portugal further illustrate that doping is a persistent problem throughout Europe.

Just like its neighbouring countries Russia and Ukraine, DHCT, is the drug that tops the list for Belarus. 12 athletes from the country has been banned after testing positive for the steroid.

The drug that tops the list for UK is Nandrolone where 45 athlete has been banned after violating an anti-doping rule.

Most of the 39 Romanian athletes banned has used the steroid Stanozolol. Six of the athletes from Romania tested positive for the drug.

Each of these countries has made strides in addressing doping, but the numbers indicate that there is still significant progress to be made.

Our Anti-Doping Database, which has been meticulously documenting doping sanctions since its inception in 2005, provides a comprehensive resource for understanding these challenges.

The Landscape of Doping Sanctions in European Athletics

The Anti-Doping Database contains over 10,000 registered doping sanctions, several countries stand out due to the number of athletes sanctioned for anti-doping rule violations.

This is the top ten list for Europe:

1. Russia: 452 sanctions (44,05%)

2. France: 110 sanctions (10,72%)

3. Ukraine: 97 sanctions (9,45%)

4. Italy: 96 sanctions (9,36%)

5. Spain: 60 sanctions (5,85%)

6. Belarus: 58 sanctions (5,65%)

7. United Kingdom: 45 sanctions (4,39%)

8. Romania: 39 sanctions (3,80%)

9. Greece: 36 sanctions (3,51%)

10. Portugal: 33 sanctions (3,22%)

Sources: Athletics Integrity Unit, National Anti-Doping Organizations.


Access the world's largest Anti-Doping Database, spanning over 60 years of doping cases and investigations.

Use up-to-date data when reporting or researching on doping in sport, or when defending an athlete in an anti-doping matter.