DOPING in CYCLING (drugs and methods)

EPO (erythropoietin): EPO is a chemical form of blood doping that first appeared in the late 1980s, allowing aerobic potential to be high, increasing the oxygen transfer capacity of the blood. Its misuse in the professional ranks came shortly after it was used on the patients it was designed for. EPO artificially increased the body's red blood cell count. The strengthening of an athlete's red blood cells (and therefore the efficiency with which oxygen is transported around the body), in order to improve performance, is done by injecting erythropoietin - a hormone produced by the kidneys that stimulates production of red blood cells - and gives a huge performance advantage. It was undetectable until a test in 2000 became available. The use and abuse of EPO was rampant in professional cycling, according to the riders who competed at the time. This is underlined by the number of cyclists caught using the substance. The greater the amount of red blood cells available, the more oxygen can be carried from the lungs to the muscles. EPO is usually taken before a large training block - out of competition - to ensure that by the time of the competition all traces of synthetic EPO will be gone. It allows the dopant to train more and more than he would be able to "naturally". Cheaters can also do “micro doping” for being below the failure limit, as an aid to performance in the event.

The obvious danger with EPO is that the body's ability to produce red blood cells is naturally compromised, with the athlete finally having to depend on injections of the hormone (for the rest of his life). In May 2007, the T-Mobile cycling team suspended two doctors who allegedly provided EPO to former Tour de France winners Bjarne Riis, Jan Ullrich and other drivers of the team (then known as Team Telekom) between 1992 and 1996, more a decade earlier. Although EPO is now a banned substance in professional cycling, and riders are regularly tested for its presence in their bodies, its use is still an issue. CERA is the most efficient form of the drug, the ‘third generation’ EPO was only detectable in drug tests as of May 2008.

Blood doping: blood doping is when an athlete illicitly increases the number of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in his body in order to improve athletic performance. An athlete has healthy blood "removed" during periods when the body is in its freshest blood (for example, after a period of rest), where blood is stored and transfused 'back' to the rider when needed.

The advantage of a half-liter blood transfusion can provide an athlete with an additional half-liter of oxygen to the muscles per minute, while also increasing the muscles' ability to use oxygen by up to five percent. Autologous blood transfusion (transfusion of your own blood) is undetectable and may not be technically "doping", but it remains a prohibited technique to provide a huge boost to an athlete over tired competition.

Poorly stored blood leads to severe disease and blood clots, and by pushing "thick blood" with high red blood cell count through the body, massive pressure is placed on the heart. The main function of red blood cells is to transport oxygen to the muscles, which means a higher RBC count can dramatically improve an athlete's performance by increasing their aerobic capacity and endurance. Blood doping in the traditional sense involves collecting red blood cells from the compatible athlete or donor and then saving them until needed. Red blood cells can be easily frozen and thawed for later use, without significant loss of their oxygen transport properties. Just before a critical competition, these red blood cells are harvested and then reinjected into the athlete's circulatory system. The biggest case of blood doping in professional cycling is known as Operación Puerto, the name of the case given by the Spanish police. The investigation broke down in May 2006, when Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes was accused of helping 200 professional athletes from a range of sports engage in blood doping to improve their performance. Among these athletes were some of the best known cyclists in the world, including several of the first placed in the most recent of the Olympic Games and Tours de France. In May 2007, fifteen cyclists whose names appeared in the Operación Puerto investigation were acquitted, while three riders - Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi - have admitted to doping or have apparently been convicted of substantial evidence linking them to the practice.

Human Growth Hormone: When the goal is to increase muscle strength and power (to improve technique) of proteins, natural or synthetic anabolic agents in combination with hyperprotein diets and muscle strengthening exercises are often used. The balance between the increase in muscle mass and the loss of fat mass can be maintained by growth hormone associated with amino acids, drugs with anabolic properties, or with nutritional supplements.

Growth hormone stimulates cell growth, helps in building muscle mass and its recovery. It is typically injected before a training period (to assist muscle development during training), but it can be used during competition to accelerate recovery from fatigue. Abuse of HGH leads to thickening of the bones (mainly the jaw bone), swelling of the hands and feet and increased organ growth.

HGH is currently not tested efficiently.

Pharmacological, chemical and physical manipulation: Through the use of specific substances or methods, it is possible to hide the presence of prohibited substances, or even to change a urine sample. Most obvious techniques used is to use someone else's urine for your sample, or using Epitestosterone, Bromantan, diluted urine, hemodilution, reducing renal tubular secretions or manipulating the body's testosterone / epitestosterone ratio, simply to beat the test.

Steroids: The main form of cheating that has occurred in professional cycling is the use of doping substances, including anabolic steroids. There are several steroids that improve muscle development and the kidney's ability to produce natural EPO. Testosterone - being one of them - both speeds up the body's EPO production capacity, and helps in muscle recovery. Natural or artificial compounds that act as testosterone - such as nandrolone, tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), Stanozolol, androstenedione, DHEA or - can increase muscle size, strength and power. It also increases aggressiveness and competitiveness, and allows you to train more, for longer.

In males, the known side effects are kidney damage, breast development, premature baldness, shrinkage and hardening of the testicles, sterility and impotence, acne, increased aggression and sexual appetite. In females the side effects have been the development of male characteristics (such as facial hair and a deepening of the voice), causing increased aggression, mood swings, depression, irregular periods and increasing the risk of jaundice and liver damage.

Steroids remain in the body for up to six months and are easily detectable in the urine. Anabolic steroids encompass a whole family of drugs related to testosterone, a male hormone, and that stimulates muscle growth in the body. Anabolic steroids can be taken by pill, injection or administered through the skin. American driver Floyd Landis, who won the Tour de France 2006, was stripped of his championship a month after the race, when the results of a drug test showed above acceptable levels of testosterone, as well as the presence of synthetic testosterone in his body .

Stimulants: substances like amphetamines, ephedrine, cocaine, ecstasy and Salbutamol act on the brain to stimulate the body mentally and physically, allows athletes to compete at higher levels - for longer - reducing feelings of tiredness, and can help with loss of weight.

Gene Doping: In fact, changing the DNA index of the individual human being is at the forefront of biological research. The essence of gene therapy is not the EPO hormone itself, but to increase the "gene" it produces, to make it more. It has been possible to put a gene in a virus, a defective virus that works as a kind of van in motion to put that gene in cells, therefore, the multiplier effect. There are already some ready-to-use genetic systems that allow precise adjustments of the gene's activity. Although unproven and, more importantly, undetectable; Gene doping is the next generation of avenue for fraud. The initial Gene therapy was designed to treat people with chronic kidney disease and cancer, for people who are unable to make a good amount of red blood cells in themselves.

Amphetamines: A relatively less common problem in professional cycling is the abuse of amphetamines as a performance-enhancing drug. These days, amphetamines are the drug of choice only for frauds without imagination or sophistication. If you call it cranking or speed, it's the same thing, but luckily using those off-limit uppers seems to be quite rare these days, at least there are high-level busts since the Tour of Spain winner Anjo Arroyo his title was ripped out in 1982 for a positive test. Amphetamines are a stimulant, and mimic the effect of adrenaline on the central nervous system. Users can feel more alert, more energetic and less tired. Amphetamine abuse continues to be tied to one of cycling's most tragic stories, the death of British driver Tom Simpson at Mont Ventoux during the Tour de France in 1967 due to heart failure caused by a combination of heat, dehydration, physical stress and the drugs he had taken on the morning of the race.

Narcotic painkillers: Morphine, methadone, heroin and pethidine are the strongest painkillers known. Its use increases the pain threshold that allows an athlete to compete and train more / more, and reduces or eliminates the pain to compete, despite injury or illness.

These substances are highly addictive, loss of concentration, balance and coordination, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, constipation, loss of consciousness and coma, and are easily detectable if tested within three months of being taken.

Diuretics are products that help to eliminate fluids from the body (such as acetazolamide, chlortalidone and triameterene). They are used to lose weight quickly (water) and to disguise the presence of other dangerous substances, increasing the rate at which it is produced and urine expelled.

Side effects are dehydration, dizziness, cramps, headaches, nausea, kidney damage, and it is easily detectable.


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