Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Diego Maradona, Marion Jones – the list of doping sinners in top-class sport is long, but also off the beaten track..
Nevertheless, doping in popular and recreational sports is rarely reported and current figures are missing. However, studies assume that 10 to 15 % of all fitness studio visitors dope. Men seem to use the banned substances much more often than women. In Germany, 8.55 million people were members of a gym in 2014, and 23.69 million were members of a sports club in the same year. The number of German hobby dopers in Germany is estimated at 350,000 to 400,000, the number of unreported cases is probably even higher. Fitness is the trend: The number of fitness studio members has been rising steadily for years, in the last 10 years it has almost doubled in Germany. The sports and fitness industry is booming, and so is the market for performance-enhancing products. Doping is often introduced through seemingly harmless dietary supplements such as creatine, glutamine, protein-vitamin mixtures and herbal muscle-building products. The problem is that these products are not manufactured according to GMP standards like drugs and are therefore often contaminated. In addition, there are hardly any clinical studies on the health consequences of taking these drugs – especially if they are taken over many years.
The who-is-who of doping substances
Among the most popular doping substances are anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) such as stanozolol and nandrolone. These synthetic testosterone derivatives are said to enable rapid regeneration and muscle building. Excess testosterone is used in every och in the body, the enzyme aromatase converts it into estrogen-like substances. To counteract the feminising properties of these testosterone degradation products, AAS users often use aromatase inhibitors such as anastrozole and letrozole or estrogen receptor antagonists such as tamoxifen at the same time. This shows that Doper is usually not satisfied with the misuse of a substance or substance class. The risk of interactions is naturally high with such a polymedication. Other drugs that are misused for doping are beta-2 sympathomimetics such as clenbuterol and hormones such as insulin, hCG and growth hormones such as somatotropin. In addition, diuretics are often used to make muscles stand out more, to lose weight quickly or to flush out doping substances and thus mask abuse.
Consequences of doping drug use
Doping can cause a variety of symptoms, but these are often not associated with the misuse of drugs – and as a result, the result is misdirected therapy. Typical signs for the use of doping substances are:
- Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) Beta-2 sympathomimetics
- Acne tremor
- water retention dizziness
- Alopecia Hyperhidrosis
- Headache Tachycardia
- Hypertension Hypokalemia
- mood swings hyperglycaemia
The physical consequences of doping are as varied as the doping substances themselves. The permanent use of growth hormones such as somatotropin can lead to acromegaly and diabetes mellitus type 2. AAS, on the other hand, damages the liver, which can lead to lesions, peliosis hepatitis, hepatic adenomas and hepatocellular carcinomas. In addition, the use of AAS can cause cardiovascular damage such as ventricular hypertrophies, increased platelet reactivity, arrhythmia, myocardial infarction or apoplexy. Furthermore, disorders of lipid metabolism (increased LDL, decreased HDL) and atherosclerosis may occur. Love life also suffers from the use of AAS: erectile dysfunction, loss of libido and testicular atrophy may occur. In addition, conversion of AAS into estrogens often leads to gynecomastia in men, while women often experience pronounced virilism. The use of AAS can also have psychological consequences, such as manic or hypomanic changes, an increase in aggressiveness and – after discontinuation of AAS – depression, which can lead to suicide. In adolescents, AAS have an additional harmful effect: they stop bone growth.