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Health Tips / Drugs abuse in sports

The following is a summary of the abuse of drugs in sport, their side effects and why they may be used.

EPO is also known as Epoetin or Erythropoietin it is the best known of this class of drugs, which stimulate erythropoiesis which is the formation of red blood cells.

EPO enhances athletic performance by increasing the supply of oxygen to muscle tissue and is in particular useful in endurance sports such as long distance cycling, distance running, cross country skiing. It also enables the athlete to recover faster from an endurance event.

While this substance is naturally produced in the body and it can also be made by recombinant DNA technology. It is pharmacologically classified as a haematopoietic growth factor which means it promotes the growth of red blood cells in the body. Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body. EPO is used clinically in the management of anemia associated with chronic renal failure in dialysis and predialysis patients, in conjunction with other treatments for HIV and as a part of a drug-treatment regime for those undergoing chemotherapy.

The abuse of EPO by athletes can have particularly serious consequences as its abuse can result in changes in thickness of the blood thus affecting the rate at which blood flows through the body. This can be further exacerbated by dehydration potentially leading to a life-threatening situation for the athlete. The effects of EPO is often measured by a haematocrit reading which is a measure of the volume percentage of the red blood cells in blood. Haematocrit readings above 55% have been reported to result in coronary and cerebral circulatory problems.

Other side effects include iron overload, flu-like symptoms such as headache and joint pain and high blood pressure.

Anabolic Agents enhance muscle mass, enabling athletes to train harder, develop greater strength and power. They are abused in power events such as sprinting, weight lifting and field sports such as rugby and American football. This category includes the designer steroid "THG"(tetrahydrogestrinone). Samples are tested against specifically known anabolic agents. The designer steroid THG was specifically designed to avoid detection as its existence and chemical structure was not known to authorities until recently.

Side Effects at high doses include jaundice, acne, unwanted facial hair, liver damage, mood swings and aggression, nausea, headaches, raised heart rate; infertility, heart problems; diabetes, fertility problems.

Diuretics can be used as masking agents to allow other drugs to be flushed out of the body. These drugs could be potentially abused in all sports. They are also abused in weight-controlled sports such as weight lifting, power lifting, bodybuilding, boxing and karate as a means of reducing weight quickly. At higher does diuretics are associated with dehydration, cramps, heart problems, lethargy, drowsiness, restlessness and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Beta Blockers can be used in precision sports to steady nervous twitches improve accuracy and could potentially be abused in sports such as Gymnastics, Motorcycling, Archery and Shooting They tend to be used at the same levels as for therapeutic use associated with their use for hypertension, some cardiac arrhythmias, or migraine. Side effects of beta-blockers when used in healthy individuals may include cardiac problems including slow heart rate and low heart rate, dizziness and impotence.

Stimulants enhance speed, cardiovascular activity and reaction times. They also reduce fatigue and can make athletes more aggressive and competitive. They could be abused by sprinters, short distance swimmers and in contact sports such as soccer, rugby, football, boxing etc. Stimulants at high doses have been associated with heart problems including palpitations, irregular heartbeat, changes in blood pressure, and even convulsions and irrational behaviour.

Insulin controls the blood sugar levels and the amount of glycogen in the body and interacts with growth hormone, glucocorticosteroids and adrenaline to regulate the energy supply to the body. Insulin has potential for abuse in many sports including cycling, athletics and swimming and may be used in conjunction with other doping agents.

Growth Hormone promotes growth of skeletal, muscular and other tissues and changes how carbohydrates are metabolized in the body. This enables athletes to train harder and more frequently and recover faster after training. It has been reported to improve bone density, decrease fat mass and increase lean body-mass, resting metabolic rate, and in some cases improve feelings of well being. Most of the activity from Growth Hormone is associated insulin-like growth factor-1 (also known as IGF-1).

It has potential to be used by all sports where endurance and energy is required such as cycling and athletes.

Enlarged hands, feet and face and some cancers, diabetes, fertility problems are associated with the abuse of growth hormone.

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00