Thursday, January 12, 2012

Performance Enhancing Drugs

If you are a baseball fan you'll know that Milwaukee Brewer's outfielder Ryan Braun, selected as the National League’s MVP in 2011, has tested positive for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone and now faces a 50-game suspension from baseball.

You can't read the news without an athlete once or twice a month getting "caught" using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's). In fact, it seems like athletes using banned substances are hunted as hard as terrorists.

Nobody likes a cheater, and I used to always assume these athletes were guilty, but after reading a report by the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) on supplements, now I have doubts about automatic guilt.

Both reports were based on studies on nutritional supplements and concluded that a large percentage of these nutritional supplements not only had toxins or impurities, but some of the non-declared ingredients would cause an athlete to come up "hot" on a urine test for PED's. Hence, the USOC's negative stance on food grade supplements.

There are however many athletic organizations endorsing pharmaceutical grade supplement which are manufacture under strict compliance eliminating chances of impurities or banned substances. Makes sense if your million dollar (and more!) salary is in part dependent upon your urine tests coming back clean.

With the London Olympics quickly approaching, the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Association warned athletes to avoid foods that will make an athlete test positive on a drug screening. One of the foods on the list is Liver, which can increase the risk of an athlete testing positive for anabolic agent clenbuterol. The Food Standard Agency (FSA), a British government agency similar to the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., advised athletes against eating liver.

The FSA cannot rule out the possibility that if a large portion of liver is consumed containing clenbuterol at permitted residue limits, urine collected shortly after consumption may contain detectable levels of clenbuterol. This depends on many factors including the amount consumed, the timing of the urine test and the analytical methods used.

Bottom line for me is that I now, in my mind, give the athlete the benefit of the doubt until proven that they are a "cheater".

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