The Lowdown on Performance Enhancing Drugs | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

The Lowdown on Performance Enhancing Drugs

February 23, 2013 | Mo Skelton

Must See Nutrition Videos

Athletes spend hours and hours training because they want an edge on their opponents. Unfortunately, sometimes athletes turn to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to get an even larger competitive advantage. (Read Play it safe with advice from the NSF.)

PEDs are synthetic, or manufactured, drugs or supplements used to enhance physical skills and performance, such as strength, recovery or endurance. Athletes in nearly all sports have used these drugs, despite potential serious side effects and rules against doping.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) promulgates rules and regulations on drug use for many sports—except for drugs prescribed by a licensed physician to treat certain medical conditions under the USADA's "therapeutic use exemption." (Learn which supplements are safe.)

One problem with PEDs is that they are often marketed as safe. This couldn't be further from the truth. PEDs are completely unregulated and are often distributed by chemists, not prescribed by doctors. Many have terrible side effects.

Anthony Bosch, who ran a "wellness" facility in Florida called S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids), was promoting deer antler velvet spray, which contains IGF-1, a substance banned by all major pro sports leagues. Bosch is not a medical doctor, but a chemist. This should raise a red flag for athletes, since to avoid potential health issues or a failed drug test, they must understand who is providing them with treatment.

All athletes should understand that, as it has in the cases of Lance Armstrong, José Canseco and others who have used PEDs, the truth will come to light. Quite simply, the reward is not work the risk.

Here are some PEDs that athletes have used to unfairly enhance their performance.

Deer Antler Velvet Spray

Deer shed their antlers and regrow them many times. The velvet coating on the antlers contains IGF-1, which Sports Illustrated describes as a "natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth." Few studies confirm any positive benefits of deer antler velvet, and several doctors have said that IGF-1 can only be injected, not taken in pill or spray form due to its unstable nature.

Androstenedione

"Andro" gained notoriety during the late 1990s, when it was seen in Mark McGwire's locker during his monstrous home run seasons. At the time, it was sold over the counter and was not banned. A naturally occurring substance that's secreted by the adrenal glands, andro is taken to boost testosterone production. It  is now a banned substance and is only available with a prescription.

Human Growth Hormone

HGH is another naturally occurring hormone that fuels muscle growth and development. It's taken to improve strength and promote lean body mass. It is also banned and only legally available by prescription. HGH has many side effects, including abnormal growth of the bones in the head. A clear example is Barry Bonds late in his career.

Testosterone

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that contributes to muscle development. Synthetic testosterone can be directly injected. Anabolic steroids can be taken that have effects similar to testosterone. For people with low testosterone levels, it's a necessary medical treatment. For athletes, it is an illegal form of drug therapy. It also has multiple side effects, such as liver failure.

Erythropoietin

EPO is a hormone that naturally increases the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to muscles. It is commonly used by endurance athletes, such as Lance Armstrong, to increase the amount of oxygen available for muscles to convert into energy.

Stimulants/Energy Drinks

Many energy drinks are available on the market today. While the dangerous substance ephedrine isn't found in drinks sold in your local store, there is still an inherent risk associated with a stimulant or energy drink. Essentially, anything that can alter heart rate or respiration rate is dangerous for an athlete. (Learn about the dangers of energy drinks.)

Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Must See
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 544,918
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,902,816
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 3,824,081

Featured Videos

James Harden on Becoming a Franchise Player Views: 72,546
Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Views: 28,813
Blake Griffin Interview and Cover Shoot Views: 574,257
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,902,816
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,359,811
Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique
Views: 5,011,383
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 7,834,380
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,902,816

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

Athletes and those who train on a consistent basis face the challenges of dealing with joint and muscle soreness, psychological stress, and recovering...

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

How to Select a Healthy Protein Bar

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Creatine Supplements: Benefits, Concerns, Types and Dosage

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

Should I Take Creatine?

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

3 Tips on Choosing the Best Post-Workout Creatine

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement