Sports & drugs.
Getting the edge legally versus banned methods.
The image above(right) was taken recently in Morocco and shows where many drugs originated; ie. natural sources.
My understanding is that many of the professional triathletes/ironman are doing altitude training to reach their peaks. It is very true that the red blood cells of the body generate more of a certain chemical at altitude. More of this chemical increases the red blood cells oxygen carrying capacity. No doubt it is also useful for practising hill climbing on the bike as well.
Have heard that running up hills strenghthens the muscle groups that help the knee lift part of the running action, so another reason to spend some time in the mountains.
Running down a slight hill can make you run faster also, but this amuses me as see only the joke side of this.
Must say cafeine is pretty much legal and it has been proven to boost performance. However caffeine has diuretic effects which in plain english means, 'more stops at the bathroom can result'. Drinking more fluids maybe required as a result.
The above is a totally legitimate way to improve performance.
So that really brings me to discuss banned methods in sports. I use the term banned methods to encompass banned substances/drugs and banned techniques such as blood doping.
Blood doping entails the athlete drawing off ones own blood weeks or months prior to an event, then reinfusing it at the time of an important event. The body quickly replaces the blood that was drawn off all those weeks/months prior so when the collected blood is reinfused the body has more red blood cells(RBCs) in circulation. More RBC's equates to more oxygen carrying ability to the cells of the body. Oxygen is a key component in generating energy in the cells so it gives a big boost to performance. Hopefully this technique is laid to rest by drug testing agencies.
Couldn't avoid discussing illegal drug use or other related banned techniques to boost performance. This is because it is so disapointing to hear how common it is in certain sports.
The scandals that have surrounded this and last years 'Tour de France', involving blood doping and anabolic steroids are hard to believe, but it now seems as though drugs have been embedded in cycling for some time.
My previous work involved the day to day administration of anabolic steroids for certain kidney conditions for example, so my background is a formal training to understand all of this and many other drugs actions fully.
About a year ago I attended a conference that changed my views on the charges laid against cyclists in the 'Tour de France'. A guest speaker who worked in one of the worlds foremost universities(and privately), in the field of detecting minute amounts of foreign chemicals spoke for an hour or more. He explained several examples of detecting minute chemicals and how they could be traced. It was incredible how advanced they are and there is no mistaking a synthetic versus the bodies(natural) anabolic steroids, going by what he explained.
So a reason for this post is to make people aware that the detection agencies are getting incredibly advanced. Hopefully if more people are aware of this, it will reduce the incidence.
I don't think the drug agencies give advance notice when their detection methods improve, but most of there work is published in specialised journals which are available in many university libraries.
Going by the amount of illegal drug use and banned techniques(eg. blood doping), that are being detected I have had to rethink the belief that the elite sportspeople in certain sports are following the rules and are drug free.
I did have a personal experience while in my first year of university of illegal drugs for sports. Was in the universities gym with my teams clothing on when an older guy approached me and said, ' to play your sport at the top level you will have to be bigger' and the offer of anabolic steroids was then made. I just said 'no' and that was the end of it.
The above took place closer to 20 years ago than 10 years ago and I mention it for several reasons:
-Firstly it is clear that cycling is not the only sport that has concerns with its participants taking banned substances.
-I avoided this gym from then on and recommend anyone to avoid being around such offers as well.
Have just been reading through a sports science blog spot and felt the need to comment because I disagree with their acceptance/reasoning of using banned drugs.
Several reasons why I believe banned performance enhancing drugs and other illegal techniques should be tested for and enforced with punnishments/seriuos repercusions are as follows:
- when some athletes use banned substances and others don't, it is no longer an equal playing field.
- the use of drugs for producing enhanced performance is fraught with danger ; get the dosage wrong or overuse and the consequences can be life threatening or life shortening.
- banned substances can allow an athlete to train more effectively, for example less training for better results and quicker recover. That is, it is cheating and bad sportmanship.
- there are drugs out there which I am aware of that can make athletes blow world records away. The rewards to the athlete are enormous if they are not caught. Therefore samples should be kept and those caught cheating should be severely punnished in my view(more severely than a 2 year ban anyway).
These drugs could also be used in any sports where betting has been involved. Betting and sport could encourage all sorts of incentives to cheat which is a whole new topic.
The next step which I hope is taken to detect drug cheats is that samples are kept for many years after and retested for drugs developed that the detection agencies aren't aware of at the present time.
That should be about all on this topic.
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