Physical training still remains the primary method of developing and changing appearance, even with the range of performance enhancing drugs available to athletes to enhance the effects of training. Performance enhancing drugs refer to a number of substances that are most commonly used to reduce an athlete’s body fat (catabolic effects) or to enhance their muscle growth (anabolic effects). Although there is an obvious benefit to the use of performance enhancing drugs, there are serious negative side affects that can be damaging to the athlete and have a serious risk to their lives. In the recent years there has been a significant increase in the amount of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. Sports such as cycling, football, swimming and bodybuilding have gone under investigation, with some famous and high achieving athletes being tested and revealed to be using performance-enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage, also known as doping.
Professional cycling, which was once a highly respected and on of the most popular sports in Europe has now lost respect and trust, due to the extremely high amount of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs over the past decade, which has even resulted in the dethroning of some recent Tour de France winners. Cycling places a high demand on the physical fitness of athletes. With long and hard distances often at high altitudes, cyclists must endure hard training to achieve their goals of winning tournaments such as the Tour de France. There are multiple drugs that have been used by professional cyclists over the years, some of which include Erythropoietin, Corticosteroids, Saline and plasma infusions.
Erythropoietin, which is a popular drug used in cycling, is a growth-enhancing drug, which stimulates the bone marrow and production of red blood cells in the body. The drug has side effects such as flu-like symptoms, headaches, high blood pressure, skin irritation, skin rash and increased risk of developing blood clots. The drug is a colourless fluid and is injected into the body with a syringe to the thigh or abdomen. An athlete known to have used Erythropoietin is the famous cyclist Lance Armstrong. Due to Erythropoietin artificially increasing endurance and stamina the drug was a perfect enhancer for the cyclist during competition. Due to his use of illegal performance enhancing drugs Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, a great loss in the scandal. A recent investigation uncovered that eighty per cent of Tour de France medallists between 1996 and 2010 have been discovered to use performance-enhancing drugs to reach their goals.
In recent years the professional swimming community has come under investigation for the use of performance enhancing drugs. Swimming is an aerobic sport and improves cardiovascular endurance. The objective of professional swimming is to record the fastest time over a set distance. Due to this swimmers need to be able to exert the maximum amount of speed in a competition. A well known drug use issue was of the sixteen year old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen who was accused of using performance enhancing drugs in the London 2012 Olympic games. Ye was accused of using human growth hormone to gain her victory of beating Stephanie Rice’s 400-meter individual medley record. Human growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and spurs growth in children and adolescents. It aids in regulating body composition, muscle and bone growth, body fluid and heart function. The drug was developed in 1985 and was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for specific use in adults and children.
Human growth hormone has side effects to the athletes using it such as nerve, muscle and joint pain, swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome, numbness and high cholesterol levels. It has also been seen to contribute to cancerous tumour growth and increase the risk of diabetes. The