Drug attack in the gym

Be wary of performance enhancing drugs whether on the field or in the gym
Failure is not losing a race by 0.22 seconds, but not passing a dope test is. And don't sportsmen already know that. Yet, more and more names join the 'cheaters hall of infame'. Recently some teenaged sportsmen tested positive for banned substances, at the National School Games held in New Delhi between December 28 and January 3.

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) collected 81 samples during the event of which 11 tested positive for banned substances including marijuana. The results shocked many; including NADA itself, as the results revealed that doping is prevalent in high numbers at the school level.

Muscle mania
Substance abuse is usually fanned by social pressure, explains Dr Mirchandani. "In the gym, when you see people with good bodies flexing muscles, some get tempted to turn to hormonal drugs to enhance cardio-vascular strength, and work out more."

However, these teens are playing with their bodies. "Personality disorders like depression and rage attacks, even fertility issues could arise," warns Dr Mirchandani. There's serious risk of hypertension, tachycardia, stroke, seizures and even death.

Be confident and cautious
Dr Mirchandani says that most often it's the coaches and gym trainers who influence and suggest the use of such drugs. It's easy for athletes to may feel pressurised into taking something if they are to level the playing field. Like a top cyclist once explained, "It is impossible to finish in the top five of a Tour de France without doping." But if you are caught, it will never be worth it. Athletes also need to be cautious to prevent inadvertent doping. Players need to know what they can and cannot take and also the medicines that require prior notification such as inhalers for asthma. For instance, many athletes don't know that caffeine is also banned in sport; a level greater than 12 micrograms/ml constitutes an offence. Many of the over-the-counter analgesics contain caffeine as do beverages and sports drinks. Nutritional supplements, that are aggressively marketed to athletes and even gym enthusiasts, are totally unregulated. The labelling of such preparations does not always reflect their actual content. Update yourself on all requirements and mandates if you are participating at a National or International event.

Sports and dietetics
Your performance can surely be enhanced through a good diet and correct nutrition required for your activities, says sports nutritionist Deepshikha Agarwal. "The carb loading diet for marathon runners for instance, can enhance their performance by upto 50 per cent," she informs. There's a proper diet for each sport that needs to go along with your training for great results.

War against substance abuse
Athletes have taken performance-enhancing agents since the beginning of time. However, when in 1960 the Danish cyclist, Kurt Jensen died after overdosing on, the search for control measures began.

Methods of anti-doping control were first pioneered in the 1960s, by Arnold Beckett, an academic pharmacist with a specialist interest in sports pharmacy, based at Kings College London (formerly Chelsea College). It was, however, the televised death of the British cyclist Tommy Simpson, while under the influence of amphetamine during the 1967 Tour de France, that proved the catalyst for implementation of official anti-doping control systems. In 1968, the International Olympic Committee ( IOC) published the first banned list of drugs and implemented the first formal drug testing programme at the Montreal Olympics.

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