Over the years, bodybuilders, athletes, and men who want to perform or feel better in general have turned to a variety of performance enhancing drugs. In the list of performance enhancing drugs below, you can learn more about the top five, what they do, and which famous athletes have been known to use them.
What are Performance Enhancing Drugs?
Performance enhancing drugs are substances designed to enhance the way human beings perform, usually in athletic settings. You will find most mention of performance enhancing drugs in sports, where athletes can be banned from participating if they test positive. Most professional athletic groups – including the Olympics Committee – believe that these drugs give users an unfair advantage over those who do not or cannot use them. Anabolic steroids are some of the most popular performance enhancers, but they are not the only options. Other products like HGH, and hCG can also be used in this manner.
#1 – Human Growth Hormone (HGH, or Somatotropin)
HGH is one of the most well-known performance enhancers in the world today. It is produced naturally in the pituitary gland, and its main purpose is to spur growth in children and adolescents. Doctors prescribe it to treat a variety of conditions related to abnormal growth, but athletes use it to lower their body fat, increase their energy, and increase their resistance to injury. Baseball players Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte have both admitted to using HGH, and Sylvester Stallone claims to use it to maintain vigor too.
Though you can only obtain HGH legally with a prescription from a doctor, there are multiple products available that are designed to stimulate your body’s natural production of this hormone in the pituitary gland. One of these SeroVital, is rapidly becoming more popular among individuals who want to remain youthful. Sports groups including the MLB and NFL do screen for excess HGH, and players can be banned if tests are positive. However, these tests allow for some fluctuations in hormone levels, which provides some leeway for supplementation with natural HGH boosters.
#2 – Erythropoietin (EPO)
Erythropoietin, or EPO, is a hormone that is produced within very specialized cells in the kidneys. Once present in the bloodstream, it stimulates the stem cells in the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells, then protects them from destruction. Doctors will often prescribe it to patients who have certain types of kidney diseases to help maintain proper hormonal balance, but athletes use it to vastly increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the tissues – namely the muscles.
Lance Armstrong admitted to using EPO along with testosterone, cortisone, and HGH back in 2012 to improve his performance during more than one Tour de France competition. EPO is on the list of performance enhancing drugs that are banned for use in many professional sports, including cycling. Erythropoietin has been clinically shown to increase the risk of certain types of diseases, including cardiac disease, stroke, and even pulmonary and cerebral embolism. What’s more, chronic misuse EPO can cause immune disorders that are difficult if not impossible to treat.
#3 – Deca Durabolin (Nandrolone)
Deca Durabolin is an anabolic steroid that occurs naturally in the body in very, very miniscule amounts. It can treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and help combat muscle wasting in patients who have AIDS or similar illnesses. Some athletes use it to help promote the growth of significant muscle mass and decrease recovery time, and the most famous case is that of Chris Benoit, who hanged himself back in 2007 after killing his wife and son.
Although there was never any substantial evidence that his use of Deca Durabolin led to the deaths, investigators discovered that Benoit received regular shipments of the steroid (and anastrozole) from disreputable doctors. Deca Durabolin is one of the most common performance enhancing drugs in sports today, despite the fact that it is banned in most professional leagues. It is a very versatile anabolic steroid that is considered safe when used responsibly, but it can cause serious side effects when abused. Athletes who choose to use Deca Durabolin for performance enhancement should be very careful to stick to recommended doses and cycle lengths to avoid these side effects.
#4 – Winstrol (Stanozolol)
Winstrol is one of several performance enhancing drugs that are derived from naturally-occurring testosterone. It is used in medicine to promote bone and tissue growth and treat a variety of hormonal problems. Famous athletes like Fernando Vargas, Tim Sylvia, and Rafael Palmeiro have all used this particular steroid, which increases muscle strength, improves overall stamina, and generates lean body mass better than many other drugs out there.
Unlike many of the other performance enhancing drugs, Winstrol is also regarded as safe for women when used responsibly. In 2010, Jamaican runner Beverly McDonald was caught using it to boost her performance on the track. Despite this, she was allowed to keep the silver medal she earned during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she won in the 4x100m relay. However, she lost the gold medal she won for the Jamaican team in Athens at the 2004 Olympic Games.
#5 – Testosterone
The most popular performance enhancer in the world today is testosterone, which is produced by the male testes as well as in small amounts in the female ovaries. There are several different types and formulations (esters), and it is most commonly used to treat men diagnosed with Low-T. Many professional athletes have tested positive for testosterone, including Mary Decker, Alex Rodriguez, and even Floyd Landis, who won the Tour de France in 2006 and was later stripped of his title due to his testosterone use.
Testosterone is available with a prescription in most countries. Men will often seek these prescriptions from their doctors and hoard them long enough to complete a performance enhancement cycle, but even with a prescription, these men are still at risk of being banned from sports. Sophisticated testing can determine precise testosterone levels in the bloodstream, and if they are higher than what is expected for hormone replacement therapy, trouble can ensue.
List of Performance Enhancing Drugs Banned in Sports
Athletes choose to use performance enhancing drugs for a number of reasons. Most commonly, they are used to increase muscle mass, speed, energy, power, and strength. Sometimes, though, athletes and bodybuilders will take drugs to improve their oxygen delivery, to mask the use of other drugs, or even to conceal pain, allowing them to perform despite injuries or medical conditions. Most performance enhancing drugs are banned in sports, though there are some circumstances that may allow them.
Goal Drug Class Banned in Sports?
Performance enhancing drugs have been around since the early 1900s, and many athletes have turned to them over the years to achieve the results they want. Although banned from most major sports around the world, these compounds can certainly provide an edge when it comes to fitness, strength, stamina, and recovery times.