Doping, What is it and Why is it Dangerous?We have all heard of athletes who were disqualified from their sport for doping. Certain Olympic sports such as track and swimming, baseball, football, body building, weight lifting and cycling races have all seen their share of doping scandals. Just what is doping?
In simple terms, doping is the use of drugs or other substances to enhance an athlete’s performance, making them faster, stronger or have more stamina than they normally would. Anabolic steroids are probably the most well-known of the drugs, followed by HGH (human growth hormone). Other drugs and substances have also been used, such as testosterone, Dianabol, Furabol, cocaine, digitalis, amphetamines, ephedrine and even strychnine.
Since the early 1990s, blood doping has also been done using various substances and methods to raise the red blood cell count. Two of the substances used are Erthropoietin and Hypoxia Inducible Factor Stabilizer. The first is normally used in medicine for cancer patients undergoing chemo therapy or radiation. It also promotes faster healing of wounds. The second is used in the treatment of chronic kidney disease. Blood transfusions and blood substitutes (engineered O2 carriers) are two of the methods used to increase the red cell count. Increasing the number of red blood cells enables more oxygen to be carried through the body.
Many of the drugs and methods used for doping have beneficial medical uses when used appropriately and in low doses. In sports, they are used in high doses and more often than in medicinal use for the sake of lasting longer, being faster and stronger to have an edge in competition.
When these substances and methods are used for the sake of enhancing an athlete’s performance, they not only can but do become dangerous. The risks athletes take in doping include stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, liver, kidney and thyroid damage, cardiovascular disease, aggressive behavior, severe mood swings, suicidal thoughts and adrenal burnout.
The risks an athlete takes in doping don’t just damage the person’s health, they can be deadly. Other risks may not be as dangerous but will still affect the athlete for the rest of their life. For example, adrenal fatigue will leave the athlete weak, damage to the reproductive system can result in sterility and impotence, problems with balance and coordination, and an enlarged heart.
Before an athlete even thinks about doping to win in competition, they better think about what it will do to their health and how it will affect their personal life. Is being stronger, faster and having greater endurance worth risking your life? Are you ready to die for your sport?