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In the following article, we will uncover the truth behind doping in sports and shed some light on why athletes dope in the first place. I’ll explain what doping is, cover common types of doping and performance-enhancing drugs, and I’ll give you some insight into what’s going on behind the scenes compared to what you hear in the media.
The general assumption is that doping is both unhealthy and unfair and so it makes sense banning it. We’ll get back to this issue a bit later. Let’s first look at some popular performance-enhancing drugs and their effects on the human body.
Testosterone, the principal male sex hormone, is an anabolic steroid that increases the body’s metabolism and muscle growth. So by injecting testosterone (or one of its many chemically modified derivates) your body regenerates quicker (so you can workout even more), you have less risk of an injury, and by holding water in your muscles, you become (as long as you keep injecting) stronger and bigger.
Doping tests cannot differentiate between natural and chemically synthesized testosterone. So one may think that by injecting pure testosterone one can trick the doping tests. Unfortunately, that’s not true since doping tests can indeed detect abnormally high levels of testosterone, but more importantly, they test for the relationship between testosterone and epitestosterone. If that coefficient is off, drug testers know that you injected testosterone.
So laboratories supporting athletes who dope are always out for modifying the chemical structure of natural testosterone without much limiting its anabolic effects. The results are often anabolic steroids that the mass spectrometer, which checks the athlete’s urine or blood samples against known steroid patterns, cannot detect.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
HGH is another naturally occurring anabolic steroid that athletes inject to recover quicker and to build quality muscles. Up until recently, drug tests could not detect HGH, so it became very popular among professional athletes. The