In an effort to learn more about doping in sport, I would like to ask the members of the board what are some common but seemingly innocent substances you can take that would give you a positive drug test. If it is not a substance, but a method, that would work too. The list of prohibited doping substances and methods are given at the World Anti-Doping Agency website at: http://www.wada-ama.org/en/prohibitedlist.ch2
To get the ball rolling, I will list the first common way to get a positive drug test: Fat burners. Many of those fat burners you saw a few years back on “health store” shelves contained ephedrine which is prohibited. Ephedrine is a stimulant that can lead to a range of health problems with the cardiovascular system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephedrine#Adverse_effects
The new fat burners you see on the shelves very likely contain caffeine as a key ingredient even though some brands try to avoid listing it by instead putting some obscure “herb” in the ingredient list that does contain caffeine. Caffeine is also a stimulant but it is not prohibited by WADA yet. Instead, it is on a “watch list” where WADA is studying whether to put limits on its use or not. Needless to say, trying to lose weight by stuffing yourself with caffeine pills isn’t a good idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine#Overuse
Overall, I think the concept of fat burners is sleazy and lazy. You are taking a drug to try to lose weight when really you should do that through a balanced diet and exercise. You risk dependence on the drug and just what happens to you when you go off it? You have no idea how irritated I get when I hear guys in the gym saying how awesome the fat burner he is taking. But, that is just me and I’ll save that rant for another time.
To end this post off, I would like to give you something to ponder but don’t need to answer. Many of us read and hear about doping in sport, but how many of us actually understand the workings of WADA and its significance? How many of us actually know what the drugs are on the prohibited list? How many of us can explain how drugs are added to the prohibited list? How many of us can give a concrete definition of what it means to “dope”?
Okay, I would have googled this but I’m not sure what terms to use. Some athletes train at a high altitude, which gives them more oxygen in their blood, or something like that. I’ve read, somewhere, that there is a drug that shows up in the blood as same as this effect of training at high altitude. By this I mean a drug that is prohibited in some kinds of competition, but not an illegal drug.
(I see these people all the time in the mountains. They do a thing called either 3-2-1s or 1-2-3s, where starting at the summit they run down three miles, then run back up, then run down two miles, then back to the summit, then down one mile, then back to the summit. Some of them may be training for mountain runs, but not all of them, surely.)
You are thinking of altitude training and Erythropoietin (EPO).
Training at altitude forces the body to create more oxygen carrying blood cells due to the strain of exercising in the thin air. This gives the athlete an advantage at lower altitudes because he/she will have a higher ability to utilize oxygen than someone who only trains at sea level. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altitude_training
The drug EPO creates the same type of performance enhancements as altitude training but without the effort. It is prohibited by WADA and is/was quite popular with cyclists. However, you run the risk of dying from heart failure in your sleep because your blood can become thick like peanut butter if you abuse it. It’s unethical to take it anyways.
If you want the benefit of altitude training without going to the mountains, you can use an altitude tent that will simulate conditions at high altitude: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altitude_tent
Just a few months back, WADA was debating whether to ban altitude tents. But they concluded that altitude tents do not violate the spirit of sport and won’t cause health problems for athletes. I thought that this was a bunch of bull and they were only debating it in reaction to Operacion Puerto in the cycling world.
Erythropoietin is the name of the substance. When levels of Epo rise, the body makes more red blood cells. It’s good for the athletes because the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is increased, but it can also thicken the blood, especially if they overdo it, and can lead to strokes and heart attacks.