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A Look at Banned Substances in the Olympics

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A Look at Banned Substances in the Olympics


The use of performance-enhancing drugs by Olympic athletes is not new; in 1904, American runner Thomas Hicks was administered strychnine during the marathon at the Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri. He won the event after the first-place finisher was disqualified for driving part of the marathon. Today, there has been a substantial crackdown on the use of performance-enhancing substances, thanks in part to big television audiences and massive commercialization, which have ingrained in many viewers an idealistic image of the Olympic athlete. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), created in 1999 as a result of an initiative supported by the International Olympic Committee, is at the forefront of the battle against drug use in sports. WADA’s Prohibited List—a compilation of chemicals banned from sport—has increased throughout time to include not only more drugs but also new ways of doping, such as gene doping. The following is an overview of the primary categories of prohibited substances and procedures (as of 2016).


Anabolic steroids

Anabolic drugs and selective androgen receptor modulators are anabolic agents that enhance muscular growth. Examples include stanozolol, one of the most often overused steroids by athletes, and zeranol, a fungal-derived nonsteroidal estrogenic chemical that is sometimes administered to animals to encourage growth. Exogenous (not produced by the body) steroids such as stanozolol are easily detectable in urine. Endogenous anabolic steroids, which occur naturally in the body, on the other hand, are more difficult to spot Typically, determining if an athlete is enhancing natural substance levels is done by computing ratios and comparing those figures to average values.


Growth factors and peptide hormones


Substances that encourage the growth of tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, or that improve the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, the body’s consumption of energy, or the body’s ability to recover, are all prohibited by WADA. Specific examples include erythropoietin (EPO) and FG-4592, which increase the number of red blood cells in circulation and thus boost haemoglobin’s oxygen-carrying capacity, and insulin-like growth factor 1. (IGF-1), are more difficult to spot Although such chemicals are detectable in urine, they are at extremely low quantities or do not meet the requirements for misuse.


Agonists of beta-2 receptors

Beta 2-agonists are bronchodilators, which reduce smooth muscle tightness and open the lungs’ airways. Many people take beta 2-agonists to treat illnesses such as asthma. WADA considers the presence of these substances in extremely high concentrations in the urine to be an abnormal finding.


Modulators of hormones and metabolism

Substances in this class influence the effects of hormones in the body or alter the body’s metabolism. Antiestrogens are one example; sportsmen may use them to prevent obvious indicators of anabolic steroid misuse (e.g., breast growth, baldness, infertility), AICAR improves fat utilisation and mitochondrial synthesis in muscle. Suspected abuse is indicated by elevated urine levels of banned drugs in this category.


Masking agents and diuretics

Diuretics dilute and potentially hide the presence of other illegal performance-enhancing drugs by increasing the flow of urine. Diuretics can also change the pH of urine, preventing acidic and basic medications from being excreted in the urine. Furosemide, chlorothiazide, and desmopressin are examples of diuretics and masking agents. Urine can contain these chemicals.


Other restricted drugs and procedures

Stimulants, narcotics, alcohol, cannabis, glucocorticoids (anti-inflammatory medicines), and beta-blockers are also prohibited by WADA (which block the effects of epinephrine). Only in specific sports are alcohol and some beta-blockers restricted. Several beta-blockers are also banned from use in sports such as shooting and archery.


Blood manipulation, tampering with (or attempting to tamper with) tests, and gene doping are all illegal doping practices. Cells, genes, and genetic components are modified in gene doping with the sole purpose of improving athletic performance. Repoxygen is an example of a DNA segment that was created to increase the generation of EPO. Repoxygen was originally created by a pharmaceutical company as a type of gene therapy for severe anaemia. It is unknown whether an athlete has ever employed re oxygen or any other form of gene doping.


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