It’s in the name.
Athletes use Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) to improve sporting performance. They are also given to racing animals like horses and dogs. Like Viagra; but for sport.
There are many different types of PEDs. Peptide Hormones and Human Growth Hormone increase muscle size. So these are your poisons of choice if you want big guns and extra strength.
Anabolic Agents generate testosterone. This is a sex hormone and has an effect on growth. It’s also what causes men to get aggressive and competitive. Rawr.
Blood Doping refers to techniques which increase the amount of red blood cells in the body, these cells contain oxygen. More oxygen means better stamina and performance. This helps in long endurance sports like cycling or long distance running.
The Blood Doping process adds more Erythropoietin (EPO). This is a hormone created naturally in the body which creates more red blood cells. Another method is to inject new fresh blood into the body that already contains more red blood cells. You go stronger, for longer. #Winning
Doping and Performance Enhancing Drugs give an unfair advantage to those who use them. So you won’t be surprised to hear they are illegal in sport.
Part of the problem is that new drugs are constantly cooked up. Doping tests check your blood and urine for traces of drugs. However if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for it can be easy to miss things.
Athletes can also dodge the tests by using diuretics, which boost the production of urine to flush the drugs out of the system after they have competed. Oh, it’s a glamorous life.
Take Performance Enhancing Drugs and you risk serious damage to your body. Acne, liver damage, impotence and depression are just a few of the side effects. Also how does losing your sight, severe migraines and the possibility of a heart attack entice you?
Doping has its own risks such as contracting a virus from a blood transfusion.
And if you’re caught Doping or taking Performance Enhancing Drugs you risk losing all your titles and a long ban from the sport. Those medals better be worth it.
This week the coach of Olympic medal winner Mo Farah has been accused of Doping activity. Farah himself has not been implicated; he pulled out of a race to fly to the USA to get some answers.
One of the most famous cases of sport Doping was with Lance Armstrong. Seven times winner of cycling contest Le Tour De France; he was dogged by allegations of Doping throughout his career. With Armstrong it was a case of you can ride, but you can’t hide. His illegal activities got busted after years of investigations. Armstrong was given a lifetime ban from professional cycling and his titles were stripped from him. He also lost all his sponsorship deals pretty much overnight, which he describes as a “75 million dollar day”. Ouch.
One of Lance Armstrong’s excuses was that everyone was doing it. Sounds like a poor excuse, but if you want to be in sport, you want to win; and if the winners are all using PEDS, it’s easy to see how competitors might be convinced to try.
Nowadays anti-drug operations in sport have increased. Random drugs tests are the norm. Most sports demand that competitors give exact details of their whereabouts and be available for a spot-check at all times . But is this enough?