IELTS WRITING TASK 2 [Consequences & Solution]: Performance-enhancing Drugs in Sport

Nov 17, 2023 | IELTS Test

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In recent years, there has been a rise in the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports.

What are the consequences of doping for athletes?

What measures should be taken to combat this issue?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

The model essay below answers the common two-part Problem/Solution task type. The Problem part sometimes asks for an outline of the causes of the issue, but here, it requires some explanation of the effects. However, while doing this, we do express our view of the causes in the first sentence of the 4th paragraph. This is not required, but we feel it gives a little more ‘body’ to our answer and shows our strong grasp of the overall topic. 

Worded as such, it is not so much a direct ‘opinion’ essay as other IELTS questions are, where we are asked to say which of two views we favour, whether we agree with a viewpoint expressed, and so on. However, our opinion inevitably comes into it through our ideas of the effects of the problem and what we think could be done about it. 

Our answer presents a number of ideas that engage both parts of the task. It maintains a consistently formal terminology, with a number of higher-level words and collocations (illicit, lucrative, social repercussions, lauded, reviled, prolonged use, etc). If these terms are new to you, check your learner’s dictionary for definitions and examples of use in sentences. 

Over-repetition of key terms from the task input, such as performance-enhancing, consequences and athletes, is avoided by our paraphrasing in parts to boost performance, repercussions, effects, and sports people.  

Note how we include a specific historical example of a hitherto-admired athlete found to have doped and the effect for him.  

There is a variety of grammar forms, with frequent longer, complex sentences, reduced clauses, and passive forms in parts (may be banned, While [he was] previously highly lauded, was widely reviled).   

The essay is structured here in a five-paragraph format as follows:

Introduction: We presented the topic in our own words and indicated we were going to deal with both questions. 

1st Body Paragraph: Detail of two of the consequences as we see them with a specific example.

2nd Body Paragraph: Dealing with the third effect. Note that we could have included this as part of the 1st body paragraph in a 4-paragraph format, but this would have resulted in a noticeably longer section of the text, so we chose a 5-paragraph format to present a more balanced-looking essay overall.  

3rd Body Paragraph:  Here we present steps that could be taken to deal with the problem (with a brief mention of what we see as the causes in the first sentence).                         

Conclusion: Summarising our argument that has addressed both questions in the task.

image of male athlete in track running

Model Answer For IELTS Writing Task 2 

In recent years, there has been a rise in the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports.

What are the consequences of doping for athletes?

What measures should be taken to combat this issue?

The phenomenon of widespread illicit drug use to boost performance in sports has increased even further in recent years. The consequences for athletes are threefold: legal, social, and physical. While an especially difficult problem to tackle, there are still measures which could reduce its occurrence. 

Consequences for sports people revealed as having used these performance enhancers can be severe. Firstly, they may be banned from further competing for several years or even permanently. For professional athletes, this can mean a serious loss of income from prize money and possibly lucrative sponsorship deals with major advertisers. Then there are the likely social repercussions, which can be a major issue for high-profile athletes, for example, cyclist Lance Armstrong. Although previously highly lauded for his personal courage in overcoming cancer and in his support for charitable causes, after exposure as a drug cheat, he was widely reviled publicly. 

Perhaps even more serious can be the physical outcome of prolonged use of such drugs, which may take the form of over-developed muscles and damage to vital body organs. Female athletes who take steroids may find physical changes in their bodies that are normally associated with male characteristics. 

A combination of the amount of money on offer, the increasingly sophisticated technology of drugs which can ‘mask’ the presence of illicit substances in the body when tested, and outright corruption by some sports associations make this a highly challenging problem. However, steps could still be taken in the form of even more rigorous ‘spot’ tests and the further development of techniques to evade the masking effects of some drugs. Making young athletes more aware of the harm that could occur is another possibility.

In short, the use of performance-enhancing drugs can have a variety of potentially serious consequences for sports people. Nevertheless, there are actions which could reduce the common use of such illegal substances.

(309 words) 

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