The use of
performance-enhancing drugs in sports
is on the rise, and doping in sports is indeed a global problem. As long as human beings are driven by the sheer will to succeed in any endeavor, they will do almost anything to get ahead. Sportsmen are no exception to this rule and, indeed, may be more motivated to win any sporting event in which they participate.
Also known as ergogenic aids, performance-enhancing drugs or PEDs are now so widely available that athletes around the world can have access to their drug of choice.
Performance-enhancing drugs help improve the physical appearance and performance of athletes. With performance-enhancing drugs, athletes can significantly gain weight, lose body fat, increase muscle mass, and improve endurance levels. In addition, sports performance-enhancing drugs help athletes recover quickly from injuries and muscle damage sustained while performing a training program.
Although vitamins and supplements help improve athletes’ performance, they are not classified as performance-enhancing drugs. There are
Legal drugs for performance enhancement
such as stimulants, diuretics, and some anabolic steroids. However, in the sports world the use of many PEDs is prohibited, and athletes caught doping with these drugs can face heavy penalties.
Performance-enhancing drugs in sports and anti-doping organizations
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are two well-known anti-doping organizations responsible for classifying performance-enhancing drugs in sports and also for testing athletes.
USADA tests only U.S. athletes, while WADA conducts doping tests for athletes everywhere before, during and after an international sporting event. Founded by Dick Pound on Nov. 10, 1999, WADA is also responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of punitive measures for doping offenders.
Although legal performance-enhancing drugs are widely accessible to athletes, many of these drugs may be banned before a sporting event. WADA has its own
list of banned performance-enhancing drugs
list, and this list is regularly updated by the anti-doping agency.
Types of performance-enhancing drugs – Health benefits and risks
There are many types of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, each of which offers athletes different forms of performance-related benefits. However, despite the obvious benefits, these PEDs also have significant disadvantages.
Here are some legal performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes, including their benefits and possible health risks:
#1: Anabolic androgenic steroids:
Anabolic androgenic steroids consist mainly of synthetically produced testosterone, and these drugs help increase athletes’ testosterone levels. This is an important feature of most anabolic steroids because testosterone is responsible for building muscle mass, which is what many athletes and most bodybuilders desire.
Anabolic steroids also help minimize muscle damage from intense exercise. This is a great advantage of steroids, as athletes are able to recover quickly from the rigors of one training session in time for another grueling session. Frequent steroid use can result in gynecomastia or male breasts, infertility, enlarged prostate gland, deeper voice (in women), increased facial and body hair, hair loss and baldness, acne, high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, and drug addiction.
#2: Androstenedione hormone:
The testes, ovaries, and adrenal glands produce a hormone known as androstenedione, or andro for short. In men and women, this hormone is usually converted to estradiol (a type of estrogen) or testosterone. With the use of andro, athletes would be able to train intensely and much longer, while still being able to recover in time from strains, injuries and muscle damage. Andro is a legal performance-enhancing drug that also has some health risks similar to those of anabolic steroids. These risks also include: acne, breast enlargement, testicular shrinkage, stroke, and heart attack risk.
#3: Human growth hormone (HGH):
Human growth hormone or HGH offers users the same anabolic effects as steroids and is one of those performance-enhancing drugs in sports that help build and improve the overall performance of athletes.
And improve the overall performance of athletes. However, while anabolic steroids can help improve endurance and strength, HGH does not necessarily offer these benefits.
This performance-enhancing drug is administered by injection and can only be prescribed by a qualified physician. Some of the health problems encountered by athletes using HGH are muscle weakness, joint pain, fluid retention, hypertension, and enlarged heart.
#4: Erythropoietin hormone:
Erythropoietin hormone is normally used in the treatment of anemia in patients, particularly when it arises due to acute kidney disease. Erythropoietin helps the body generate more hemoglobin and red blood cells. Red blood cells help carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, including all vital organs and muscles. When athletes use erythropoietin, they benefit from increased oxygen to the muscles, which increases endurance and endurance levels.
Top cyclists involved in the Tour de France doping scandal in the 1990s were known to have used erythropoietin. This performance-enhancing drug is known to be responsible for an increased propensity for pulmonary embolism, stroke, and heart attack in athletes.
#5: Diuretics and stimulants:
Diuretics are drugs that help reduce electrolytes in athletes. When the balance of salts and fluids in the body is altered, dehydration can occur, but this is exactly what many athletes desire because it helps them lose weight. In addition, diuretics act as masking agents when athletes try to pass a routine drug test. Diuretics can help dilute urine to the point where previously taken performance-enhancing drugs go undetected.
Although diuretics can help athletes avoid detection during a urine drug test, they have their risks, and in addition to dehydration, other health problems include: muscle cramps, potassium deficiency, dizziness, and poor concentration. Electrolyte loss due to diuretic use can also lead to a drop in blood pressure and even death.
are used by athletes to increase heart rate, blood pressure and stimulate the central nervous system. With stimulants, athletes can increase endurance levels, aggressiveness and alertness. Stimulants also help suppress hunger while reducing fatigue and general fatigue. Caffeine is a stimulant commonly used by athletes, who can get it from energy drinks.
Other known stimulants used by many athletes to enhance their level of sports performance include amphetamines, ephedrine, methamphetamine, and even cocaine. Health risks associated with long-term use of stimulants include: dehydration, palpitations, tremors, weight loss, hallucinations, hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.
There has been much discussion about the legalization of certain performance-enhancing drugs in sports. However, while this debate continues, WADA is tough on athletes who are caught using banned substances for performance enhancement. Meanwhile, athletes are known to use PEDs to improve their training and training performance during the off-season. They usually follow a program that aims to build up strength, endurance, stamina, weight, and musculature to a level they can sustain before a competitive sporting event.