The use of doping in cycling

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The use of doping in cycling
The use of doping in cycling

If you decide to go in for cycling and want to improve your results, then find out what doping cyclists use and how to take them. Many people today take up cycling to improve their health. However, in sports, in order to achieve high results, it is necessary to train a lot and hard at the limit of the body's capabilities. The problem of the use of doping in modern cycling, as well as in other sports disciplines, is very relevant. It is to this issue that this article will be devoted today.

Doping in modern cycling: what is it?

Cyclist close up

To begin with, the word "doping" should be understood as biologically active substances that can increase physical parameters. Almost all of them have a number of side effects and sometimes quite serious ones. Thanks to the use of these drugs, athletes' strength parameters and endurance increase.

Although all of them were created for use in medicine, athletes take them in doses that significantly exceed therapeutic ones. You can treat doping in different ways, and someone does not see this as a serious problem. We will not delve into this topic, but only talk about those drugs that are considered doping in modern cycling and about the permitted means.

What drugs are prohibited in modern cycling?

Doping tubes instead of rings on the Olympic flag

All drugs that are considered doping in modern cycling can be divided into several groups.

  1. Stimulants. This group should include sympathomimetics, stimulants of the nervous system, as well as analgesics. Due to the increased efficiency of the central nervous system, the body's energy storage increases, but prolonged use of these drugs can cause addiction. It should be noted that not all drugs in this group were banned, but the vast majority.
  2. Narcotic substances. These drugs can be not only synthetic, but also natural. They are able to stimulate the nervous system and have analgesic properties. Narcotic substances cause both psychological and physical dependence. Take morphine as an example, which is a natural substance that has powerful anti-stress properties. Today, narcotic analgesics are used quite often in sports.
  3. Steroids. It is the most famous form of doping in modern cycling. All of these drugs are based on derivatives of testosterone, which is the most powerful anabolic hormone in the human body. Some AAS are used to gain muscle mass, while others can dramatically increase an athlete's endurance. Steroids interfere with the endocrine system, which can lead to the most serious consequences.
  4. Beta blockers. Many athletes use these drugs to reduce tremors, which is important in cycling. However, they have a large list of side effects, some of which are fatal.
  5. Diuretics They help accelerate the utilization of excess fluid in the body and are used to reduce body weight by athletes. Long-term use of drugs in this group can be fatal, and such examples are known in sports.
  6. Erythropoietin. This drug is used in medicine to stimulate the synthesis of red cells in the blood, which has a positive effect on aerobic endurance. In the early nineties, erythropoietin began to be considered a doping in modern cycling. This sport belongs to the cyclical group, and it is endurance that is one of the determining factors for success.

However, recent studies of erythropoietin have questioned the appropriateness of its use by athletes. According to Professor Adam Cohen, there is no scientific evidence that erythropoietin can significantly improve endurance performance. But its serious danger to the body has been proven.

Note that the substance is a hormone that the kidneys synthesize in the body. When the concentration of oxygen in the body drops, the production of erythropoietin increases, which leads to an acceleration of the synthesis of crane bodies. The synthetic drug is used in medicine to treat acute forms of anemia. A group of scientists led by Cohen conducted a study that involved cyclists with no health problems. As a result, it was found that the VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption) after using the drug increases by only 20 minutes. Given the fact that the race lasts an average of about five hours or more, there is little point in using erythropoietin. According to Cohen, it is the maximum oxygen consumption that is most significant for winning the competition.

What drugs are allowed to be used in cycling?

Human silhouette made of pills

You should immediately warn that all drugs approved for use in sports are not able to dramatically increase your results. However, they will help the body cope with strenuous physical activity.

  1. Vitamins. To obtain positive results, athletes should take vitamin complexes. There is no point in paying attention to one substance while ignoring the rest. Only when all micronutrients are available can you count on success.
  2. Hepatoprotectors. Scientists have found that cyclists' liver is exposed to serious stress. Although this organ is capable of regenerating, help will not hurt. For this, it is necessary to use drugs of the hepatoprotective group. They help to accelerate the processes of restoration of the cellular structures of the liver.

High-profile doping scandals in cycling

Cyclist with glasses

The active fight against doping in modern cycling began in 1967, when Tom Simpson died of an amphetamine overdose during one of the stages of the Tour de France. Until that moment, there were also deaths among cyclists, but it was this case that caused a huge resonance around the world. We will start talking about doping in modern sports in 1949.

Fausto Coppi - 1949

Fausto Coppi during the race

Coppi actively used amphetamine during the competition. Note that during his career he was an ardent opponent of the use of illegal drugs, although he himself used them. However, this became known only after the end of his career.

Jean Maleyak - 1955

Jean Maleyak is laid on a stretcher

The French cyclist during the Tour de France, almost in a coma, fell off his bike. One of his legs remained in toe clips, and the other he continued to “pedal”. It took the medical staff a quarter of an hour to revive the athlete. As a result, it turned out that on the eve of the competition, he took drugs. Maleyak immediately stated that the drugs were taken against his will. However, shortly before his death, in 2000, the former athlete admitted otherwise.

Knut Enemark Jensen - 1960

Knut Enemark Jensen on his bike

At the Olympics, held in Rome, the Danish athlete fell off his bike and was hospitalized with a diagnosis of head injury. Despite all the efforts of doctors, Jensen could not save lives. Traces of amphetamine and vasodilators were then found in the athlete's blood. The doctors reported that Jensen took 15 drug pills and 8 Ronicol, washed down with a cup of coffee.

Jacques Ancutil - 1965

Jacques Ancutil during the race

During the doping test, traces of illegal drugs were found in the athlete's body. Jacques was one of the few athletes who openly declared the massive use of doping in modern cycling.

Tom Simpson - 1967

Tom Simpson close up

The idol of all Britain, Tom Simpson, was unable to overcome the treacherous rise of Mont Ventoux. This was due to amphetamine and severe dehydration. After the next death of the cyclist, the leadership of the international federation decided to strengthen control over the use of illegal drugs.

Eddie Merckx - 1969

Eddie Merckx on a bike

Eddie became the first cyclist to be disqualified for using illegal drugs. The Belgian athlete has won the Tour de France five times. In 1969, while undergoing doping control, traces of illegal drugs were found in his body. It happened during his participation in another prestigious tournament - Giro d'Italia.

Since representatives of the Merckx team were absent during the autopsy, the athlete contested the decision. As a result, the case gained wide publicity and the athlete was allowed to participate in the following competitions. Then Merckx was convicted of doping three more times.

Bernard Thevenet - 1975

Bernard Tevenet during the race

The athlete managed to win the Tour de France race twice. He confessed to the use of doping himself after the completion of the crankcase.

Michelle Pollentier - 1978

Michelle Pollentier during a bicycle race

A very funny incident happened to this athlete during doping tests. Wanting to hide the fact of doping, Michel replaced his urine with someone else's. Imagine his surprise when the results were positive. Note that his urine was "clean".

Festina team - 1998

Festina team with full roster

During one of the stages of the Tour de France, probably the loudest scandal in cycling broke out. All representatives of the “Festina” team, which at that time were in the lead in the race, were accused of using illegal drugs. In addition to traces of the epogen, amphetamine was also found in the blood of athletes.

It is understood that the team was withdrawn from the competition, followed by a police investigation. French law enforcement officers detained a team representative with steroids, amphetamine and erythropoietin. The leaders of "Festina" for a long time denied the fact that their athletes were using doping, but then they confirmed it.

Marco Pantani - 1999

Marco Pantani against the sky

The athlete had already won both prestigious races by this time. In 1999, while participating in the Giro d'Italia, Marco was found to have a high hematocrit level. This indicates the use of erythropoietin, but at the same time, the hemoglobin indicator was within the permissible range. Pantani decided to refuse to participate in competitions and returned to big sport a year later. In 2001, a syringe with insulin was found with him, for which the athlete was disqualified for six months.

Evgeny Berzin - 2000

Evgeny Berzin during a bicycle race

One of the best Russian cyclists was withdrawn from the competition during one of the Giro stages due to the high level of hematocrit. Although Eugene was only disqualified for 14 days, he made the decision to end his career at the age of 30.

Di Luca - 2013

Di Luca during the race

The athlete during the Giro race showed good results after the first disqualification for doping (2009). However, in 2013, a prohibited drug was again found in his body.

For more on doping in modern cycling, see the video below:

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