Use of Drugs

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Ergogenic aid: anything that is performance enhancing, can delay onset and perception of fatigue, quicken recovery, mask pain etc

Ergogenic aids can be:

  • Mechanical (eg equipment)
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Psychological
  • Physiological
  • Nutritional

Prohibited classes of drugs: stimulants, narcotics, anabolic steroids, diuretics


Using Drugs for Strength

  • Human growth hormone: a naturally occurring substance that increases the rate at which amino acids are transported to skeletal muscle cells
  • Taken to increase muscle size and strength
  • Mobilises fat for energy (decreases body fat)
  • Long term effects: muscle weakness, gigantism, heart disease, cancer, infertility
  • Anabolic steroids: synthetic derivatives of testosterone, causes the development of masculine characteristics (incl tissue building)
  • Effects: liver damage, masculine appearance + infertility in women, aggressiveness
  • Esp. in weightlifting, body building etc

For Aerobic Performance (EPO)

Erythropoetin (EPO)

  • Naturally secreted by the kidneys
  • Stimulates red blood cell production
  • Effects: headache, joint pain, stroke, high bp

To Mask Other Drugs


  • Increase amount of fluid (water and urine) passing from the body
  • Used in weight reduction sports eg boxing, weightlifting
  • Can clear evidence of steroid use
  • Effects: dehydration, heart + kidney failure, dizziness


  • Depressant
  • Found in cough mixture
  • Effects: vomiting, slowed reactions, blurred vision

Drug Testing

  • First at the Mexican Olympics 1968
  • Sydney: only urine samples (doesn’t test for EPO and HGH)
  • Can be done: randomly, in bulk, according to positions
  • Sample is divided: A and B. If A is positive, they test B. The appropriate sporting organisation is informed of the B result
  • Athlete must comply or the test is deemed positive

The Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (Ethical Perspective)

Arguments For The Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (Ethical Perspective)

  • Performance enhancers allow athletes to train better through size and strength gains that they were unable to achieve before.
  • Performance enhancement increases the entertainment value of the sport.
  • Performance enhancement is part of sports technology that helps to advance the development of sport.

Arguments Against The Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (Ethical Perspective)

  • Performance enhancers allow athletes to cheat by artificially increasing size or strength without training.
  • Performance enhancement diminishes the integrity of sport.

Issues Related to Drug Testing

At what level of competition should drug testing be introduced?

What types of drugs should be tested for?

What are the pros and cons of drug testing?

Pros of Drug Testing

  • A uniform code of testing ensures the rules would be consistent from sport to sport and country to country. No sport or athlete could gain an advantage under local rules.
  • Random tests are much more efficient than restricted testing periods, which give offenders an advantage in flushing drugs from their bodies and in timing their periodic cycles of use.
  • Professional athletes who belong to a union would not face lower standards created in the give-and-take of collective bargaining. Professional leagues would not be able to bargain away higher standards in return for financial concessions.

Cons of Drug Testing

  • Drug testing is inconsistent, and false positives are prevalent. A career could be damaged by a faulty test.
  • What is classified as "performance enhancing" in one sport might not provide an advantage in another. One-size-fits-all testing does not take into consideration the actual effects of the substance on athletic performance.
  • Professional athletes have a right to bargain with owners over every aspect of their careers. To give up that right gives owners an unfair advantage.


What should be the consequences of drug use?

Drug Use in Sports Links

Australian Drug Foundation

Australian Sports Drug Agency

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