There are many methods used by athletes to try and cheat and gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. The use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) peaked in the 1980s, but are still well used in certain sports. Fortunately the scientific and medical community generally have been advancing as fast as the drug cheat's laboratories, and hopefully even catching up. Here is a discussion about a few of the methods that are used or have been used in the past by athletes.
Testosterone and other anabolic steroids
Don't Do It
Steroids can be very hazardous to your health. Although there is clear evidence that steroids will help to build muscles, there are many side effects that should discourage their use. Side effects include stunted growth, acne, voice changes, and alteration to the sex organs. As an alternative, it is possible to successfully build muscle though appropriate diet and exercise. Although this may takes a little longer, it is a lot safer for your health.
Testosterone, a male sex hormone, helps build muscle and improve stamina. Testosterone is a substance produced by the body, and artificial doping is considered when elevated levels are found above what is normally expected or if a synthetic form of testosterone found. The drug testers compare the ratio of the amount of testosterone and epitestosterone as this changes when the person boosts their natural testosterone levels. Carbon isotope ratio testing involves a mass spectrometer and can also determine the presence of synthetic testosterone - they can determine the difference between endogenous (naturally produced) and exogenous (came from an external source) testosterone.
Beneficial effects have also been found with similar compounds that also have muscle building effects.
Erythropoietin ( EPO)
EPO is sometimes used by endurance sport athletes such as cycling and long distance running to gain a competitive advantage by increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. EPO acts by increasing the body's own production of red blood cells. It can be dangerous when abused as it can result in thickening of the blood.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
HGH is a hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and regeneration. Athletes use synthetic HGH to increase muscle mass, reduce body fat, and enhance recovery. However, misuse of HGH can lead to acromegaly (excessive growth of bones and tissues), joint pain, and insulin resistance.
Stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine are used to increase alertness, reduce fatigue, and improve focus and concentration. They can enhance performance in endurance sports by delaying fatigue and increasing energy levels. However, stimulants also carry risks of addiction, cardiovascular issues, and adverse psychological effects.
Beta-2 Agonists drugs, such as clenbuterol and salbutamol, are bronchodilators commonly used to treat asthma. Athletes use beta-2 agonists to improve breathing and increase oxygen intake, thereby enhancing endurance. However, misuse of beta-2 agonists can lead to tremors, palpitations, and muscle cramps.
- Interesting and amusing excuses from the drug cheats
- Olympic Games Drug Scandals
- Drug testing procedures
- About Urine testing
- More about drug testing with examples
- Olympic Cheats
- Quiz: When was doping banned at the Olympics?
- Poll: Have drug cheats ruined your faith in the Olympic ideal?