We all hear about drugs in sports and performance enhancing drugs. But what are these things? Do you know for sure? And who governs the use of these substances in international sports and athletics? And do these things really need to be banned in the first place? Or is it just another form of human adamancy to control whatever they can. Despite of the truth that PEDs only provide an edge and the base for a successful athletic performance has to be present in the first place in order to optimally utilize the effects of PEDs, the social stigma and preconceived notions regarding PEDs in sports has led to the wide unacceptance of these chemical compounds in the sporting world. The truth being the complete opposite that every professional sport today is using performance enhancing drugs and the surprising thing is that people simply choose to turn a blind eye to it. It may be because they just want to believe that PEDs are not a big part of the sport, whereas, in reality, it has been a huge part of the sporting world for a long time.
A PED or a performance enhancing drug in sports is a chemical compound that is used to enhance the physical capabilities of an athlete or a sportsperson in any type of physical pursuit. They usually work by causing the body to build surplus muscle and also by reducing muscle fatigue and boosting muscle recovery. PEDs usually fall under the category of anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are essentially synthetic and molecularly engineered versions of the male primary sex hormone testosterone. However, there are also PEDs that are non-steroidal in nature such as Ibuprofen which limits the inflammation in the body due to strenuous physical exercise. PEDs also provide various other effects like an increase in physical strength, increase in the production of red blood cells, increase in aggression, focus, and skyrocketed fat metabolism.
Performance enhancing drugs are used for various purposes. They provide a wide spectrum of uses such as an increase in muscle mass, increase stamina, increased speed, increased strength, increased focus, increased aggression and so on. They are versatile compounds that can be used in any sport and the results are no less than phenomenal. However, it still depends on the hard work and dedication of the sports person to deliver when it matters.
It is quite difficult for a normal being to decide if any chemical compound is a performance enhancing drug or not. But it is the job of the World Anti-Doping Agency that administers the use of chemical compounds in various sporting events. The WADA was created in 1991 as an independent international agency which is sponsored and facilitated by different sporting federations around the world. The WADA follows the anti-doping code, which is basically a set of guidelines for the athletes all around the world on administering or using chemical compounds in their bodies.
The Prohibited list is WADA’s list of substances that it prohibits athletes from taking for performance related use. This list is full of anabolic agents, androgenic steroids, stimulants and certain protein peptides. This list, however, keeps on updating every now and then. There are also certain substances that are permanently banned from usage such as narcotic drugs. While on the other hand, there are substances that are banned only during the competition such as alcohol.
The Code followed by WADA has a certain provision for a specific set of therapeutic drugs, which are used for curing or treating certain diseases. In case, a drug is being used to treat or cure a chronic or acute disease and there are no alternative ways to cure or treat it, the usage of that drug may be permissible. In addition to this, the drug should not cause any further performance enhancement to the athlete’s physical capabilities.
An athlete who is participating in an international or national sporting or athletic event, can at any times be asked to report for random testing for chemical substances. The athlete or the sports person will be asked to give her or his urine or blood samples for testing purposes. Testing can be both in during competition or not during a competition. But usually, it is the athletes who grab the finishing positions are the ones who face the test more often. It will be safe to say that the best of the best are the ones who are frequently tested.
If an athlete or sporting person is found to be taking certain chemical substances that have been banned by the WADA, she or he may face penalties ranging from a lifelong ban from that sport to a mere reprimand. The consequences are also affected by a number of factors. The punishment also depends hugely on the degree of doping and the type of doping, and also the chances of repetition of doping. In certain cases, the decision of stripping someone of their title or medal that may have been earned during the doping was ongoing, is rested with the sporting federation of the respective sport.
No, to be honest, there is no specific ban on nutritional supplements or dietary products. But there are plenty of examples of food products and nutritional supplements that have been reported to consist of certain substances that are banned by the WADA. The WADA does not spare this as an excuse for athletes to use these aforementioned type of nutritional food supplements. Therefore, athletes are advised to closely monitor what they are consuming in the form of these so-called nutritional supplements.
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