Banned Substances and Their Hazards
Gone are those times when we played to enjoy, today is an era that believes in do or die. The physical and psychological conditioning of an athlete by the Immediate environment is a strong enough stimulus to develop within him or her a spirit that is over-competitive. Something that is no longer healthy. They depend on aids that are promoted to have a performance enhancing effect. Although, this effect is purely due to the psychological perception of gulping a pill to cause an improvement ¡n performance rather than the benefits of the pill alone!
Most athletes will do whatever it takes to win. Right from wearing appropriate shoes, having the latest training equipment, meditation and massages, nutritional supplements or banned pharmacological and physiological aids that deceptively promise to enhance performance.
A research carried out in the year 1995 involved asking 198 Olympic level power athletes ¡t they would opt for the use of a banned substance ¡fit guaranteed that they will not be caught and they will win. Only three declined. Another scenario was put forth where the athlete, after consuming the banned substance, would win every possible competition at a stretch for five years, however, he would die after those five years. To their shock, 50 per cent still agreed to the proposition. The desperation to win, hence, is significant to such an extent that nothing else makes sense.
The following are the modified categories of substances that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
- Anabolic steroids
- Hormones and pro-hormones
- Hormone antagonists and beta 2 agonists
A Few Banned Substances
Anabolic Steroids – These are analogues of the male sex hormone, testosterone and are most popular amongst weight lifters, power athletes, body builders etc. because of their proven benefits of causing an increase in muscle mass, body weight, leg and arm girth and so on. They can be ingested orally or intravenously in for a period of 6-12 weeks. Its harmful effects include liver damage, cardiovascular disease, psychological disturbances with immense anger often termed as road rage, reduced fertility, etc. Permanent damage in men occurs in the form of premature baldness, shrinkage of testes, gynaecomastia amongst other problems, along with acne and insomnia. Women develop masculine features including deepening of the voice, male pattern baldness and body hair growth.
Human Growth Hormone – This is the most abundant hormone produced by our body. Ills anabolic and lipid breaking in nature which is why it is preferred by many athletes to achieve an increase in protein synthesis and decrease in fat content of the body. Supplemented only in clinical conditions its ingestion for performance improvement is strictly banned. Conditions like acromegaly which involves enlargement of hands and feet, glucose intolerance, heart diseases, etc. are the most prominent side effects.
Blood Doping – This is a process of administering blood intravenously a day or two before an event to increase the number of red blood cells (RBCs) in the blood. It is done to increase endurance capacity since RBCs carry oxygen to working muscles during prolonged activities such as long distance cycling, marathons, etc. Detrimental effects include infections because of blood transfusions, reduced blood flow, and cardiac diseases.
Ma Huang – Also known as ephedrine, this substance is widely used to cause quick weight loss. In case of athletes, it acts as a stimulant and increases the adrenaline rush to create a fight or flight response. It is characterized by an increase In blood pressure, heart rate and profuse sweating. FDA has banned it because of its harmful effects on the brain and heart.
Opting for a substance, especially a banned one in hopes of boosting performance Is a sign of incapability. Athletes who are well prepared and nurtured in the right direction would agree that believing in oneself for your talent, relentless determination and hard work is the only key to success.