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  • 1. Anabolic Steroids

2. Athletes who use anabolic steroids gain muscle mass and strength, but they also destroy their kidney function, according to a study by the Columbia University Medical Centre (U.S.) which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego. The findings indicate that regular steroid use has serious effects on the kidneys which researchers were previously unaware of. The researchers, headed by Leal Herlitz, carried out the first study to look at kidney problems following long-term anabolic steroid abuse. They studied a group of 10 body builders who had been using steroids for many years, and had developed a disorder in which they were losing proteins through their urine, along with other serious kidney disorders. The tests revealed that 9 out of the 10 body builders had developed a disorder called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis - a type of scarring of the kidneys. The illness is usually caused by an excessive over-working of the kidneys. 3. Doping casts a dark shadow over many different sporting competitions, including the Olympic Games. Perhaps the most famous case of doping is that of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who won the 100m gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In doing so he broke Carl Lewiss world record, which until then was considered unbeatable. However, Johnson tested positive for the use of anabolic steroids. He was stripped of his gold medal and the world record, and suspended from any form of competition for two years. This was changed to a life suspension in 1993, when he again tested positive for a banned substance. 4. Clenbuterol is an anabolic (a substance that imitates testosterone) which promotes muscle growth. For this reason it is used by athletes to improve their performance. The World Anti-Doping Agency lists it as a banned substance, although traces of it are often found in foods such as beef. 5. Doping in Cycling 6. Altitude Training Andy Schleck during stage 1 of the 2009 Tour de France. Training at altitude may help athletes gain a competitive edge at sea level; altitude exposure also presents problems to athletes, and these could possibly cancel out benefits Even moderate altitudes can have a significant effect on athletic performance. Click to see the effects on physical performance at altitude. All athletes seek a competitive advantage. Although the benefits of some interventions (like training, for example) are clear, most strategies are less well-proven. Altitude is no exception to this. Training at high altitude has been used by competitive athletes as a means of improving their performance. However, despite a good deal of research into the subject, its true effects and a recommended approach are still not well established. Additionally, altitude training is usually expensive and fraught with logistical problems. Benefits of Altitude Exposure Exposure to high altitude could theoretically improve an athletes capacity to exercise. Exposing the body to high altitude causes it to acclimatise to the lower level of oxygen available in the atmosphere. Many of the changes that occur with acclimatization improve the delivery of oxygen to the muscles -the theory being that more oxygen will lead to better performance. For any type of exercise lasting longer than a few minutes, the body must use oxygen to generate energy. Without it, muscles simply seize up and can become damaged. This type of exercise is called aerobic exercise, meaning with oxygen. The body naturally produces a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) which stimulates the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. Up to a point, the more blood cells you have, the more oxygen you can deliver to your muscles. There are also a number of other changes that happen during acclimatization which may help athletic performance, including an increase in the number of small blood vessels, an increase in buffering capacity (ability to manage the build up of waste acid) and changes in the microscopic structure and function of the muscles themselves. Problems of Altitude Exposure However, acclimatization to high altitude is not simple, and there are a number of other effects that could cancel out the benefits. For example the increase in red blood cells comes at a cost - having too many blood cells makes the blood thicker and can make blood flow sluggish. This makes it harder for your heart to pump it round the body, and can actually decrease the amount of oxygen getting to where it is needed. At very high altitudes (>5000m), weight loss is unavoidable because your body actually consumes your muscles in order to provide energy. There is even a risk that the bodys immune system will become weakened, leading to an increased risk of infections, and there may be adverse changes in the chemical make-up of the muscles. Additionally, the body cannot exercise as intensely at altitude. This results in reduced training intensity, which can reduce performance in some sports. At very high altitudes, further problems are encountered: loss of appetite, inhibition of muscle repair processes and excessive work in breathing. On top of this, there is the problem of altitude illnesses, which can dramatically reduce the capacity to be active at altitude, or foreshorten the exposure to high altitude altogether. 7. Blood Doping In order to increase the volume of oxygen available, reduce fatiguing, and improve performance, some sportspeople use transfusions of their own blood. Blood doping, as it is called, is also a banned form of doping. It involves extracting a quantity of blood from the athletes own body (between 20 to 30 percent of their total body blood volume) and conserving it in a refrigerator. To enhance the benefits, it is extracted after several weeks of high-altitude training, at at least 2000m above sea level, because of its higher oxygenation. The body needs to be given sufficient time to replace the blood which is removed, and restore natural levels. A couple of weeks before competition, the competitors own blood is reinjected into their body, increasing the blood volume and oxygenation, and making them more fatigue-resistant. Since blood is a natural substance, it is difficult to detect this doping method, however it can be achieved through a count of blood cells (erythrocytes). The risks involved range from contracting an illness during the extraction, storage, and reinjection, through to thrombosis (the formation of a clot, known as a thrombus) in a vein or artery, which impedes normal blood flow and may even lead to a heart attack. Since blood doping is now detectable, some sportspeople currently prefer to use synthetic erythropoietin (EPO). In its natural form, this substance is a hormone produced by the body to stimulate the production of red blood cells and increase blood volume. A test to detect the use of EPO was developed in 2000. 8. Erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO, is a hormone which stimulates the growth of red blood cells, along with other effects. In other words, it improves physical performance by helping deliver more oxygen to muscles. 9. Armstrong was categorical when he affirmed it was impossible to win the Tour without doping. He also said in an interview I dont want to accuse anyone else I made my decisions. They are my mistake. The Texan said that I viewed this situation as one big lie I didnt feel as if I was cheating, in my view, doping was part of the job. He admits to having taking all kinds of banned substances: My coctail was EPO, but not a lot, transfusions, and testosterone. 10. The use of EPO or similar substances, such as recombinant human Erythropoietin (rHuEPO), as a doping method for improving athletic performance is prohibited. The positive effects of EPO are due to its increasing the erythrocyte mass (leading to an increase in the haematocrit). It improves performance in aerobic activities, thereby increasing endurance. According to a 2007 study, the use of rHuEPO by healthy individuals produced a 6.4% increase in maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max), due primarily to a 10% increase in haemoglobin. 11. MARCO PANTANI was expelled from the 1999 Giro de Italia after high hematocrit levels were detected in a blood sample. Although it was not able to be proven conclusively, this suggested that he had used EPO. From then on he was continually subjected to accusations of doping - accusations which he always rejected. On February 14, 2004 the climbing specialist was found dead in an Italian hotel room, during a period in which he was suffering from depression. The official autopsy report eventually established that he had died from a cocaine overdose. 12. Estimulantes Some commonly-prescribed pharmaceuticals for the treatment of colds and flu may contain stimulants such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, norephedrine, and phenylephrine. What happens if a sportsperson inadvertently takes one of these products to treat a cold? 13. Stimulants Among the drugs used by sportspeople, the most common are stimulants (mainly amphetamines) and anabolic steroids. Stimulants such as epinephrine, ephedrine, and norephedrine act upon the adrenal glands and the central nervous system, increasing the heart rate, arterial pressure, muscular tension, and nervous impulses. The effect of stimulants on glands encourages the secretion of adrenaline, a hormone which places the body in a state of alert. The person becomes more attentive, sleep- and fatigue- resistant, and feels more disposed to participate in competitive activities. Stimulants also make the symptoms of fatigue less perceptible in the central nervous system, which can lead to the user overexerting themselves, possibly even to the point of death. Body temperature also increases beyond that produced by normal exercise. After some time this may lead to respiratory and cardiovascular difficulties, and even collapse. Stimulants ar