28th December 2022
Sports Doping - A Story of Fame and Shame
Lance Armstrong: From Hero to Zero
Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace was a shock to everyone. He was a hero who beat cancer and then went on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles. When he was convicted of doping, the whole world was thrown. People were disappointed that such a well-known and inspirational sportsman could have resorted to doping. Armstrong was stripped of all his titles. It was a sad day for sports but an eye-opener too.
Armstrong’s story is not unique. The sporting world has been rocked by several doping scandals involving elite athletes over the years. Because of their performance-enhancing properties, athletes are often tempted to use banned substances, despite the adverse effects on their health. And even despite the severe consequences that being caught will have on their careers. Such is the pressure to succeed and win at all costs.
What is Doping?
The term ‘doping’ refers to the use of prohibited medications, drugs or treatments by athletes to improve athletic performance. But along with better performance, athletes suffer adverse health effects. Following the death of athlete, Knut Jensen at the 1960 Olympics due to the use of amphetamines, countries and sporting organisations began instituting doping bans.
In 1999, the IOC led the initiative to start an international body to govern anti-doping and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was born. WADA sets standards for testing, raises awareness and education on the health risks of doping practices and promotes scientific research and the development of anti-doping capabilities. It also keeps the list of banned substances up-to-date and available for athletes and sports agencies.
What is a banned substance?
WADA labels a substance banned if it meets two out of the three criteria below:
• It enhances performance.
• It presents a health risk.
• It is contrary to the spirit of the sport.
Banned substances include the following classes of drugs/therapies:
• Anabolic steroids – used to increase muscle mass and lean body weight (e.g. in weightlifting).
Side effects include:
o Skin infections.
o Development of breast tissue in males.
o Testicular shrinkage.
o Bleeding around the liver.
o Increased risk of heart attack and sudden death.
• Stimulants – used by cyclists, and track and field athletes to increase stamina while decreasing the sensations of pain and fatigue.
Side effects include:
o Increased risk of seizures.
o Heart attacks and sudden death.
• Hormones – used to increase protein production (which aids muscle mass and muscle definition).
Side effects may include:
o Low blood sugar.
o Fluid overload and limb swelling.
o Overgrowth of bone.
o Heart attacks.
• Oxygen transporting (blood doping) – by increasing the amount of oxygen in their bloodstreams, athletes attempt to improve endurance and performance.
Side effects may include:
o Blood thickening.
o Increased risk of high blood pressure.
o Strokes, heart attacks and sudden death.
But there are supplements and vitamins which help people who play sports to perform at their best, without any adverse effects.
Legitimate Supplements and Vitamins
Because sportspeople and athletes push their bodies to peak performance, they often need additional vitamins and supplements. Some vitamins help beat fatigue while others give athletes an energy boost. Those that are approved are safe to use provided they’re taken according to instructions and as per recommended doses. Here are some of the most popular ones:
• B Vitamins help to release energy as they aid the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
• Iron performs many functions in the body including the transportation of oxygen in blood and aiding the development and correct functioning of cells.
• Calcium and Vitamin D maintain healthy bones and muscles. These vitamins also help to maintain muscle mass and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
• Coenzyme Q10 is an enzyme that helps cells to generate and release energy. Research has shown that Q10 may improve physical performance and fatigue in healthy people engaging in physical activity.
• Creatine improves muscle mass and improves strength when combined with strength training.
• Ashwagandha Root Extract is an ayurvedic herb which has been proven to increase the time taken for athletes to feel fatigued. The positive results are noticeable when taken for prolonged periods – from 8 weeks onwards.
• Protein powders can assist athletes reach their daily protein target which can be as high as 1,4kgs to 2,2kgs per day. Protein helps muscle growth and recovery as well as bone health while maintaining immune function.
Sportsmen and women are also known to consume sports drinks to help replenish electrolytes and fluids lost through perspiration.
A Safer Choice for Athletes
Anyone who plays sports – whether as an amateur or a professional has probably used supplements at some point. But it’s important to be aware of the ingredients. This is particularly true if you have allergies or need to avoid certain ingredients for religious or ethical reasons, for example, halal/kosher considerations.
It’s also important to take the advice of a medical professional before taking any supplements, especially for people who take other medications. Also, be aware that taking too much of any supplement may cause side effects.
For complete peace of mind, we at Hashmats Health recommend our A-Z Multivitamins. This superior product is Informed-Sport Certified*, with every batch being tested for banned substances. Recommended by Pharmacies and Clinics (UK), it contains 33 nutrients and is formulated with magnesium and Vitamin D. You can learn more about A-Z Multivitamins and our other Halal-certified (HMC) products at our online catalogue.
*Informed-Sport is an independent quality assurance programme for sports nutrition products and suppliers to the sports nutrition industry. Informed-Sports tests supplements for ingredients listed on WADA’s banned substance list.
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