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Performance-enhancing drugs 101

Within weeks of Marion Jones being stripped of her 2000 Olympic gold medals, questions arose about the ‘purity of sport’…

By Krysia Collyer , in Sport , on October 25, 2007

Within weeks of Marion Jones being stripped of her 2000 Olympic gold medals, questions arose about the ‘purity of sport’ and whether the authentic of competition can truly exist in an era of performance-enhancing drugs.

The following is a summary of some of the most commonly used prohibited drugs and doping methods. It is important to distinguish between the different substances and methods in order to fully understand the lengths some athletes go to win.


Red Blood CellsStimulants are drugs that enable athletes to increase their mental alertness and physical performance, allowing them to boost their heart and breathing rates.

A substance commonly associated with stimulants is methamphetamines or speed. Methamphetamines help boost alertness by providing a powerful kick to the athlete’s nervous system.

Anabolic agents

Anabolic agents refer to anabolic-androgenic steroids (ASS), which are artificial versions of the testosterone hormone. These performance-enhancing drugs are used to increase muscle development. Use of the substance allows athletes to train harder, longer, and reduces the amount recovery time between exercises.

Blood doping

Blood doping is a method used by athletes to boost the number of red blood cells in their system before a competition. The practice of blood doping can be subcategorized into blood transfusions and/or injections. Blood transfusions take on two forms, autologous and homologous. Autologous are transfusions that involve the use of the athlete’s own blood, while homologous transfusions use blood taken from another person of the same blood type.

Erythropoietin (EPO) and darbepoetin are injected blood-boosting drugs, which increase the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscles, thereby allowing athletes to increase their endurance.

Learn more about the next generation of performance-enhancing drugs.

-With files from


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