Research Article: Doping in Sports, a Never-Ending Story?

Date Published: November 29, 2018

Publisher: Tabriz University of Medical Sciences

Author(s): Robert Alexandru Vlad, Gabriel Hancu, Gabriel Cosmin Popescu, Ioana Andreea Lungu.


Through doping, we understand the use by athletes of substances prohibited by the antidoping agencies in order to gain a competitive advantage. Since sport plays an important role in physical and mental education and in promoting international understanding and cooperation, the widespread use of doping products and methods has consequences not only on health of the athletes, but also upon the image of sport. Thus, doping in sports is forbidden for both ethical and medical reasons.

Partial Text

Doping has become a key and complex issue in the sports world, which deserves serious consideration, as specialists are still striving to understand how and why it happens, and how to prevent it. “Sensational” revelations in the press reflect the gravity of a worrying situation resonating in most sports disciplines.1

Over time, there have been several definitions of doping. Beckmann’s sports dictionary describes doping as the use of performance-increasing substances, which would place the athlete on a superior position than that he would normally have obtained.7

Depending on the country’s legislation, doping substances can be bought from pharmacies / supplement stores or, most commonly, from the black market. For a substance or performance improvement method to be classified as doping, it must meet at least two of the following three criteria: to improve performance, to present a hazard to the health of the athlete and to violate the spirit of sport. Other methods of improving performance such as blood transfusions are also included in the doping category.

One of the substances that are currently extensively studied for doping potential is paracetamol, a substance commonly used as an analgesic and antipyretic. It has been noticed that in the case of cyclists, the athletes performances have been improved. So if in the case of cyclists it can increase performance, by lowering body temperature; why couldn’t it be used for athletes practicing marathon, or athletes who run the 5000 and 10000 meters distances ?16

L-carnitine is an endogenous compound, an aminoacid synthesized in the liver and kidneys from lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids. It can be found especially in food of animal origin, but also in plants such as soy beans, although in much smaller quantities. L-carnitine administration increases the HDL cholesterol fraction, and has neuroprotective properties in Alzheimer’s disease. For athletes, the use of L-carnitine is based on the release of energy from lipids, saving a part of the glycogen from the muscles.19

There are some pharmacological classes of substances that have a quantitative upper limit, so can be used only in very small amounts, as: central nervous system stimulants such as caffeine and beta 2 selectives such as salbutamol or fenoterol.

There are three classes of substances part of a monitoring program: central nervous system stimulants such as bupropion, nicotine, phenylephrine, phenylpropanolamine, sinephrine and pipradrol; narcotics: hydrocodone, tramadol, talpentadol; and glucocorticoids, banned in competition through all ways of administration. Also, telmisartan, a angiotensin II antagonist class on AT1 receptors and meldonium substance used in angina pectoris, can be included in the same category. Central nervous system stimulants as well as narcotics will not be used in competitions, while glucocorticoids, meldonium and telmisartan are banned both outside and in competitions.23

The fight against doping continues, but anti-doping agencies will always be one step behind manufacturers of new undetectable substances with pharmacological properties similar to those already available on the market.

Not applicable.

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.




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