Sports Doping Comparisons
Is there really a difference between anabolic steroids and blood doping? In reality, don't they both enhance athletic performances? To solve these questions you have to figure out what are they, how they work and what are the side effects.
Anabolic steroids, or more precisely, anabolic/androgenic steroids, belong to a group known as ergogenic, or so-called 'performance-enhancing,' drugs. They are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, a natural male hormone. 'Anabolic' means growing or building. 'Androgenic' means masculinizing or generating male sexual characteristics. Blood doping is the practice of illicitly boosting the number of red blood cells in the circulation in order to enhance athletic performance. Because they carry oxygen from the lungs to the muscles, more RBCs in the blood can improve an athlete's aerobic capacity and stamina.
The human body produces many forms of steroids naturally. Anabolic steroids are drugs that resemble the chemical structure of the body's natural sex hormone testosterone. Androstenedione is a steroid hormone that can be broken down into testosterone. Testosterone is naturally made by the bodies of males and, in much smaller amounts, females. When athletes take anabolic steroids, these drugs stimulate the muscle tissue in their bodies to grow larger and stronger, exaggerating the effects of testosterone on the body. However, blood doping works in a much different way. In the past, a liter of blood would be removed from an athlete's system and then frozen and stored for several weeks. A day or two before a big race, the stored blood would be re-injected into the athlete's system - creating extra red blood cells. These extra red blood cells would carry more oxygen to the muscles - giving the athlete an advantage over the other racers who don't use blood doping. Athletes don't re-inject blood very much anymore. Instead, cheating athletes will inject genetically engineered drugs...
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