Just because a substance is not banned does not deem it safe or legal for competition. You need to know many Over-The-Counter (OTC) and prescription medications that act as Performance-enhancing substances (PED’s). What’s important to know is if your medicine is listed as illegal or limited in quantity. Your prescription can prevent you from competing at a higher organized level of your sport. Let’s look at some common prescriptions with potential concerns and issues regarding the rules and regulations.
It is not as simple as applying a band-aid for medications to work. Instead, the medicines stimulate and boost the function of your nervous, respiratory and cardiovascular systems instantly and unnaturally.
Risky Substances For Competitive Athletes
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs. They are used to treat immune disorders, ulcerative colitis, asthma, skin rashes, inflammatory bowel disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc. Anything that causes inflammation, corticosteroids can and usually are administered. Specific popular corticosteroids are cortisone and prednisone.
For example, prednisone will allow you to train longer and harder. It decreases inflammation in your muscles and lungs, allowing you to maximize your performance greater than normal. For instance, one year in the Tour de France, a biker was stung by a bee. He is allergic to bee stings and would have gone into anaphylactic shock if he did not take prednisone. As a part of the Tours anti-doping rules, he needed to be eliminated from the race.
Adderall is a drug prescribed to treat ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is an amphetamine that stimulates brain activity and the CNS. It increases focus, alertness, concentration, speed, strength, explosiveness, power, and reaction time. It helps you to play longer without fatigue. Adderall has become very popular in MLB and the NFL.
For example, in 2013, 119 MLB players had applied for exemption based on medical conditions allowing them to take Adderall. Furthermore, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman tested positive in 2013 for Adderall and was suspended. His suspension was reversed based on appeal. However, he told the media that about half the players in the NFL take it.
Adderall has been banned in all sports from collegiate to professional. However, as in all sports, having a prescription from a doctor for a medical condition is permitted and allows exemption.
Albuterol is used to treat wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficult breathing. It is prescribed to people with lung diseases like COPD and is popular among asthma people. Albuterol is a bronchodilator. It works by dilating and relaxing the bronchiole tubes, the passages in the lungs, to breathe more, better, and easier without fatigue.
Albuterol pills are illegal; however, the puffer is ok by prescription. In addition to the puffer’s prescription, you can only take an allowance of 6 puffs in about a 7-8 hour period, and anything more is an infraction of the rules. However, Albuterol has shown a competitive advantage for non-asthmatic athletes.
Allegra D contains Pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a CNS stimulant and causes dilation of skeletal muscle. Bronchiole tubes increase energy glucose and boost the cardiovascular system’s output by increasing blood flow to working tissues and muscles. It is very similar to ephedrine in doing the same: stimulating the central nervous system. Pseudoephedrine is illegal and creates an infraction when 150 microgram concentration is detected.
Caffeine and Other Stimulants Dietary Supplements & Energy Drinks
Caffeine comes with both health and anti-doping risks. Energy drinks are not recommended for any athletes, especially before and during activity, and they can be especially harmful to junior athletes because the serving sizes are designed for adults.
If you take any of these medications in high school, you will need to provide proof of disease or illness to apply for an exemption. Some prescriptions are legal, as mentioned above. However, you will need to understand the quantity and levels permitted to be taken. So, words of the wise, just be cautious of banned substances and the limitation of legal ones on the list of controlled legal and illegal substances by WADA when playing sports in college or at a higher organized level.
Go to the WADA site to learn more about what is banned before and during competition. Understand what is illegal and search for alternatives to stay clean if necessary. What’s most important is playing fairly.