Part of a series on Doping in sport
Performance-enhancing drugs are substances used by athletes to improve their performances in the sports in which they engage.
Types of performance-enhancing drugs
Although the phrase performance-enhancing drugs is used in reference to anabolic steroids or their precursors, world anti-doping organizations apply the term broadly. The phrase has been used to refer to several distinct classes of drugs:
- Lean mass builders are used to drive or amplify the growth of muscle and lean body mass, and sometimes to reduce body fat. This class of drugs includes anabolic steroids, beta-2 agonists, selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), and various human hormones, most notably human growth hormone, as well as some of their precursors.
- Stimulants are used to stimulate their body and mind to perform at optimal level by increasing focus, energy and aggression. Examples include caffeine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.
- Painkillers mask athletes' pain so they can continue to compete and perform beyond their usual pain thresholds. Blood pressure is increased causing the cells in the muscles to be better supplied with vital oxygen. Painkillers used by athletes range from common over-the-counter medicines such as NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) to powerful prescription narcotics.
- Sedatives are sometimes used by athletes in sports like archery which require steady hands and accurate aim, and also by athletes attempting to overcome excessive nervousness or discomfort. Alcohol, valium and marijuana are examples.
- Diuretics expel water from athletes' bodies. They are often used by athletes such as wrestlers, who need to meet weight restrictions. Many stimulants also have secondary diuretic effect.
- Masking drugs are used to prevent the detection of other classes of drugs. These evolve as quickly as do testing methods - which is very quickly indeed - although a time-tested classic example is the use of epitestosterone, a drug with no performance-enhancing effects, to restore the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio (a common criterion in steroid testing) to normal levels after anabolic steroid supplementation.
The classification of substances as performance-enhancing drugs is not entirely clear-cut and objective. As in other types of categorization, certain prototype performance enhancers that are universally classified as such (like anabolic steroids), whereas other substances (like vitamins and protein supplements) are virtually never classified as performance enhancers despite their significant effects on athletes' performance. As is usual with categorization, there are borderline cases; caffeine, for example, is considered a performance enhancer by some athletic authorities but not others.
- Anabolic steroid
- Steroid use in American football
- Ergogenic aid
- Ergogenic use of anabolic steroids
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