Physiological Aids in sport Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 28 June 2016

Physiological Aids in sport

Physiological aids are banned substances and methods that athletes use within competition and training to improve their performance. Physiological aids are used in sport as they help an athlete’s performance. Some aids help to increase heart rate, adrenaline rate and stimulate the body but other aids lower the heart rate and change the growth of muscles and bones.

Sport is suppose to help us learn from defeat and victory, encourage us to participate in team sports, encourage a spirit of co-operation, and interdependence, and mainly encouraging moral and social values. It also means that an individual person can lead a healthy lifestyle while performing and also helping the individual to bring about a healthy, integrated society.

There are many influences on drug use, the media, the money their performance can bring in, the sponsorship and many other critical factors in an athlete’s career. There can be no justification for athletes to cheat in order to win or that the pressures and temptations are all the same for the athletes.

Most athletes turn to drugs because of pressure, it all comes down to pressure really but some feel greed and wealth.

The main reasons are usually:

·Winning can bring millions of dollars in sponsorship and endorsement;

·Society places great emphasis on success in sport, which puts more pressure on an athlete to win;

·Some banned drugs can speed recovery from injury, which means athletes can be back training, competing and winning more quickly;

·Some athletes believe their competitors are using drugs and that to be competitive, they need to take drugs as well;

·Some athletes’ desire to win is so great that they are willing to use any means, including cheating to gain success;

·Some coaches may push drug use to enhance their athlete’s chances of winning, which boosts their profile as a successful coach.

Prohibited physiological aids

Anabolic agents- there are two types of these agents- there is anabolic androgenic steroids and beta -2 agonists.

Anabolic androgenic steroids are substances that contain anabolic and androgenic properties. The anabolic properties help to increase the growth of the muscles and bones. The androgenic properties help the male’s reproductive system, helping to release more testosterone. Anabolic steroids are used to increase the strength of an athlete and also their muscle size, they also help to decrease the time the body takes to recover after exercise. So because of this the athletes train harder and for longer the extra training gives them an advantage over other athletes.

This drug can cause many physical problems like heart problems, liver damage, jaundice, euphoria and there are also mental effects like mood swings, improved self esteem, depression and aggression. Male athletes can suffer from effects like baldness, the development of breast tissue and even infertility. Female athletes can suffer from effects like menstrual problems, foetal damage, clitoral enlargement, increased facial and body hair and also a permanent deepening off the voice. They can be detected by using gas chromatography in an athlete’s urine.

Beta -2 agonists are normally used medically to treat asthma, therefore when they are taken they can increase lean muscle mass and also help to reduce body fat. The side effects of beta -2 agonists are dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, palpitations and some nausea. Beta -2 can also be detected through the urine. This drug is one of many that are banned but in some forms this drug can be taken but only for medical reasons and that will not give unfair advantages to the performer.


This type of drug helps an athlete with a certain weight category in sport, it helps the body to produce more urine so the body weight can drop significantly so they fall into a certain category. Such sports like judo, horse racing, and weightlifting, when these drugs are taken give the athlete an unfair chance of beating their competitor(s). These also help an athlete to reduce the chances of detection of other drugs by diluting their urine. The main side effect of diuretics is dehydration but they can also cause headaches and dizziness and a loss in coordination or balance.

This drug is also detected within the urine. Before, during and after exercise, it is essential that sportsmen and women take in a considerable amount of fluid, this is because dehydration can occur resulting in other side effects and also excessive loss of water effects the heart and kidneys, they could fail which mean this could be fatal to the athlete.


Narcotics help an athlete to push himself harder and further because his pain threshold is bigger, it helps him to continue exercising/ competing even when injury has occurred. Narcotics have similar effects to heroin or morphine. Narcotics are strong painkillers and they are usually competitors are tested for them when they compete. Many narcotics are illegal substances and not just in sport, these drugs are potentially addictive. Side effects from these drugs can seriously put an athletes performance in jeopardy because if the athlete continues to exercise, whilst injured it can cause further injury, even though narcotics stop the pain once they wear off the pain will be worse, like all other drugs they also cause loss of balance, lack of concentration, nausea and even vomiting, constipation and breathing/ respiratory problems. These drugs can become addictive. Detection of these drugs is also through the urine by gas chromatography.

Peptide hormones

There are many different substances within this class of drugs:

Chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)

Pituitary and synthetic gonadotrophin (LH)

Corticotrophins (ACTH, tetracosactide)

Growth Hormone (hGH)

Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1)

Erythropoietin (EPO)


Chorionic gonadotrophin

Chorionic gonadotrophin is a drug that when in a males body can help produce testosterone at a much faster rate, it is mainly used to overcome effects of testicular damage and sometimes it is also used as a masking agent. This drug is normally produced during a pregnancy and increases natural male and female steroids. This drug can cause many side effects just like the effects of most other anabolic steroids but this can also cause gynaecomastia. Immunoessay is the only way to detect this drug and this drug is only prohibited in men.

Pituitary and synthetic gonadotrophin

The pituitary gland produces pituitary hormones, and the hormones released consist of many different types, including the leutinising hormone. Hormones act as messages from one organ to another, these hormones stimulate growth, a person’s sex drive, pain threshold and a person’s behaviour. The leutinising hormone stimulates the male’s testis or the female’s ovaries. If used in a male this drug (also like hCG) helps to stimulate the production of testosterone, if used in a female this drug stimulates the ovaries. The synthetic gonadotrophin helps the body to regulate gonadotrophin production or use. This drug has no real side effect it depends on the drug used. An immunoessay test is the only way of detecting this drug as well, this is done through the urine. Both of these drugs are only prohibited in males.


Corticotrophin is a drug that helps to increase the levels of endogenous corticosteroids (cortisone) in the blood. This drug is normally used as an anti-inflammatory drug. This drug has many side effects both long and short term ones. The short-term side effects are ulcers of the stomach or stomach irritation and even psychological effects like irritability. The long-term effects of this drug are weakening of muscles and connective tissues of area of injured muscle, tendon or n ligament and even osteoporosis or cataracts.

Corticosteroids, are drugs that are used for therapy or treatment of injuries, there usage is legal but only for these purposes.

Blood doping Blood doping is a way an athlete removes blood from their bodies. An athlete will do this about a week or two prior to competition, and then they will replace it just before the competition. After the blood is taken the body has to replace the missing blood, the athlete will then replace the blood they have taken from their own body resulting in the body having additional blood. The additional blood results in additional haemoglobin and therefore a greater ability for oxygen uptake. Many things can go wrong with this method, un-sterile needles can be used, the blood is not stored correctly or another person’s blood can be accidentally used. Athletes can receive AIDS/HIV hepatitis and many other diseases. If their blood is not stored right then that can have major effects on the body and if the blood used is different to their blood group the body will reject this blood causing more problems in the body.

Growth Hormone (hGH)

The growth hormone is a hormone that is also released from the pituitary gland and is necessary for the growth of bones and muscles and also for the growth of children. The growth hormone is used by athletes to increase their muscle mass size and also their strength. This drug can cause the overgrowth of body parts such as hands, feet, the face and it can also cause soft tissue swelling and increased sweating. The most fatal effect of this drug is it causes heart disease.

Insulin- like Growth Factor (IGF-1)

This type of drug is often used to increase protein synthesis and reduce muscle cell breakdown in the body. When the muscle cell breakdown occurs it leads to an increase in muscle bulk and helps to reduce body fat. This drug also occurs naturally from a mother’s milk. The side effects of IGF-1 are headaches, joint pains, and enlargement of internal organs, changes in musculoskeletal shape and size e.g. enlargement of the jaw, hypoglycaemia (which is low sugar in the body) and also acromegaly (which is the overgrowth of certain organs like the feet, face and hands). Muscles also become stronger from this drug but taking this drug also results in the muscles getting weaker because of degenerative changes in the joints.

Erythropoietin (rhEPO)

Erythropoietin is a drug that helps to increase the production of red blood cells in the body. When the red blood cell amount increases the amount of oxygen able to be carried around the body increases meaning the muscles gain more oxygen, this helps the athlete’s performance. When the drug increases the production of red blood cells it also increases the risk of the blood clotting because it is thicker. This is very dangerous for athlete’s that perform endurance events because their blood is much thicker due to dehydration.


This drug is normally used to treat diabetes; it increases the amount of sugar in the body and also increases the metabolism of foods. If this drug is used alongside other drugs like anabolic steroids and clenbuterol it can increase muscle growth and increase muscle definition. But these drugs used together can cause severe side effects and even death. Insulin can also cause hypoglycaemia, this causes shaking of the body, drowsiness, increases in respiratory rate, weakness, it can also cause the body to be comatose, it can cause brain damage and can also cause death.


Stimulants are usually only tested for in competition circumstances, but in some causes the drug can be tested for in other sports. Stimulants consist of substances such as amphetamines, caffeine (prohibited in large concentrations) and a number of the active ingredients in cold and flu preparations (i.e. pseudoephedrine). The side effects of stimulants include an increased heartbeat and can have an impact on the body’s natural ability to regulate its temperature. Stimulants are used to reduce tiredness, increase their alertness and arousal levels and also to boost their confidence.

Sports such as endurance, fast moving sports and contact sports are the main events in which this type of drug is used. Stimulants can cause many risks to the body, it can cause possible collapse and even death, it increases the blood pressure, and makes the athlete dehydrated and can cause hypothermia. The athlete can also become dependant on this drug, appetite can be lost and the person can also become very anxious and aggressive.

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