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We know it is happening and athletes keep getting caught despite increasingly sophisticated performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). A report by the BBC released on March 20th found that more than 35% of amateur sports people personally know someone who has willingly chosen to take a banned substance. Totum Sport, the Official Nutritional Performance Partner of the Leaders Performance Institute, take a look at the causes behind doping at all levels of sport and assess the value of genuine, natural alternatives.
Why is doping so widespread in sport?
Doping has spread well beyond elite level in a wide range of sports. The UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) described drug-use in amateur sport as “fast becoming a crisis”, with almost 50% of people believing that performance enhancers are ‘widespread and easily available’ to those who play competitive amateur sport.
The problem is much more widespread than we once thought. Surprisingly, it’s not just steroids, with prescribed medications and recreational drugs accounting for the largest percentage of substances that people are taking. All too often athletes at all levels are turning to PEDs because of a lack of natural solutions to performance questions.
What are athletes turning to and why?
Of those within the BBC study who had specifically taken anabolic steroids, 41% had taken them for performance reasons. This percentage changed when the study was widened to include those who admitted to taking other performance-enhancing substances. With the wider criteria, over 50% admitting to taking substances for pain relief and over 40% taking them to speed up recovery from injury. It is reasonable to believe that problems ranging from muscle cramps and injuries to various post-training aches and pains can be reduced to a phenomenon of the past by natural remedies with none of the side effects associated with drug usage.
What organs are at risk from doping?
Many have fallen foul of taking PEDs from a variety of health perspectives. These include heart disease, kidney failure, liver disease and even mental health. The most severe abuses have led to an early and unpleasant death in certain cases. When there is no testing, and therefore no risk of being caught, amateurs are more likely to try the most outlandish suggestions in trying to emulate their heroes. Viable, natural alternatives that address the reasons why PEDs are taken will also have the added effect of safeguarding organs from further abuse and, through a natural ingredient profile, provide the damaged cells with the means to recover function over time.
Why do PEDs cause harm?
PEDs fill the body with chemicals, toxins and hormones that our body has not evolved to cope with, and can’t. Even “natural” hormones at excessive levels create a toxic environment because they are no longer in balance with the rest of the body.
Natural alternatives that deliver improved performance and quicker recovery, from amateur to professional level, keep the body healthy by working in complete balance with how body and cells should be in order to function at their best. They would remove the toxic factor and, as a corollary, support the immune system.
What is the answer to the amateur situation?
Unless testing is introduced to amateur sport which isn’t a practical solution, there is no deterrent for amateur athletes to abuse their body in the search for higher performance, better recovery or whatever else they think the drugs will provide other than education. At the amateur level education is best channelled through Personal Trainers, Gyms, Clubs and those with an online following, backed up by high profile elite athletes who take a lead in promoting good practice. Education is important not only in terms of what not to take and the damage that PEDs do, but equally importantly through providing the correct advice on nutrition and training. Nutritional fads and over-training especially set athletes up for sub-optimal performance and injuries alike which creates the drive for amateurs to turn to substance abuse. It is important that good practice is standardised through Personal Trainer certification so that all PTs are putting out the right message.
How do athletes know which products are free from banned substances?
Looking for the Informed-Sport logo guarantees that a supplement has been drug-tested and is safe for any athlete to use in any sport. As their website states: “Informed-Sport is a quality assurance programme for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities. The programme certifies that every batch of a supplement product and/or raw material that bears the Informed-Sport logo has been tested for banned substances by LGC’s world-class sports anti-doping laboratory.” Products approved by Informed-Sport taken before, during and after exercise or training are maximising your natural physiology with doing any harm.
Totum Sport is the only 100% fully natural supplement in the world. It delivers all of the 78 minerals and electrolytes that the body needs, ensuring cellular health and hydration. With no man made influence, the product is derived from the ocean and is used to prevent muscle injury and cramps, boost stamina and endurance, ensure faster recovery, all while supporting the immune system.