We may never know whether Lance Armstrong is guilty of drug doping, but he’s probably the most famous athlete ever accused of using drugs to enhance athletic performance.

Unless you’re an elite amateur or professional athlete, performance-enhancing drugs may be completely off your radar. But if you’re a parent with a child who’s a budding star, or have a family member who has visions of playing at the next level of competition, understanding how and why athletes take drugs may be important to you.

What is Drug Doping?

Basically, drug doping is the use of performance enhancing drugs and supplements to increase an athlete’s ability to perform better in a sport. While steroids are usually the first that come to mind, there are a wide variety of drugs that athletes use to make them bigger, stronger and faster.

Steroids, human growth hormone, and many stimulants may be legal to buy, but some athletes also turn to illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana to give themselves an edge or create a relaxing environment. Heroin and morphine are sometimes used to combat pain. Although many of the legal drugs are not addictive, most of the illegal ones are addictive and add to the problems associated with drug use among athletes.

Major League Baseball and the Olympics are the most vocal opponents to doping, but even the NFL and high school athletic departments are checking their athletes for drug use. Why? Because drugs can cause lasting physical and mental problems for the lifetime of the athlete.

The side effects of performance enhancing drugs includes, acne, baldness, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, liver or cardiovascular damage and whole host of other problems that may not be reversible. To gain a few inches in size, shave a second of time, or hit several more home runs just isn’t worth it over a lifetime considering the tradeoff in health.

The drug doping chart below is from Agilent, a drug instrument and measurement company that works closely with sports organizations to test athletes for drug doping and illegal drug use. It outlines the various drugs that athletes use and shows side effects of each and how long they stay in the body. It also explains the drug testing process used at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. http://www.agilent.com

To see this sports doping drugs infographic in full size, visit Daily Infographic.

sports doping drugs