The Athlete

FAQS - QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

The Ethos of theathlete.org is that Doping is Cheating; But Athletes get sick too! Our aim is to give you quick, up to date and professional advice on what to do, what to take and who to contact."

What is Doping?


"Doping contravenes the ethics of both sport and medical science.... doping consists of the administration of substances belonging to prohibited classes of pharmacological agents or the use of various prohibited methods or both"

International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Questions & Answers


Welcome to Questions & Answers, which is a forum for you to ask a question relating to sports nutrition, drugs, medicines and supplements in sport, and we will endeavour to answer it.

Listed below are some of the questions which we are regularly asked.

Q. I am a diabetic and use Insulin – What should I do ?

A. You must register yourself with the Group Medical Officer for your sporting organisation and you will be granted an exemption

Q. Due to my Hay fever , I require regular seasonal injections. Is this OK?

A. No – in normal circumstances these injections will contain banned substances such as Kenalog and Depo Medrone. However you could use “de-sensitising” steroid injections which are permitted. Anti-histamines are also permitted, however, they may cause drowsiness.

Q. Can women take HRT medicines and Contraceptives?

A. HRT medicines and oral Contraceptives are allowed for women only.

Q. Should an athlete take cold water if they cannot pass urine for a test?

A. Definitely Not. An Isotonic drink like Dioralyte is much safer. Water can cause a fit if the athlete is severely dehydrated.

Q. How do Drugs tests work?

A. You are provided with a flask, which you fill with urine. The urine is then divided into 2 separate bottles with a small amount left in the flask. The urine in the flask is tested to ensure its not too ‘weak’ (specific gravity). The other 2 bottles are sealed and then signed by the athlete and tester and sent for processing.

Q. What is soda-doping?

A. Soda-doping is the ingestion of high doses of sodium bicarbonate prior to exercise in attempt to enhance performance by delaying muscle fatigue. Often referred to as soda-loading, it involves the ingestion of up to 3 mg/kg sodium bicarbonate, approximately 30 minutes before exercise. During exercise there is a build up of lactic acid in the muscles; as this accumulates the muscles become fatigued. It has been suggested that the excess soda load buffers the lactic acid in the working muscles, preventing fatigue and allowing the athlete to continue for a longer period. The leg muscles are most susceptible to lactic acid accumulation. This method is commonly abused in endurance sports such as cycling.

Ingestion of such large doses of sodium bicarbonate is not without unpleasant side-effects and these are likely to actually impair performance. Fluid retention, abdominal bloating and thirst are common. Gastro-intestinal effects include nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal cramping and diarrhoea. Dehydration is a concern and the excess sodium in the bloodstream may place an undue strain on the heart.

Endurance athletes taking prohibited substances who also use soda-loading are at an increased risk of a positive drug test as the alkalination of urine by sodium bicarbonate delays the elimination of prohibited substances such as amphetamines and pseudoephedrine. The practice of soda-loading not only compromises fair competition but may have serious health implications and should be discouraged.

Q. Is gotu-kola permitted in sport?

A. Gotu-kola is a herbal preparation available in capsule, cream or ointment formulation, marketed as a "circulatory tonic" for venous insufficiency (e.g. varicose veins).5 Synonyms for gotu-kola are centella, Indian pennywort, Indian water navelwort, hydrocotyle asiatica. Other uses include: wound healing, anti-ulcer and anti-anxiety and rheumatic conitions. Contrary to what its name suggests, it is not a member of the cola family and does not contain caffeine.

Active ingredients include: tripertenic acids (madecassoside, asiaticoside madessic acid, asiatic acid), amino acids ( alanine, serine, aminobutyrate, glutamate, aspartate, histidine, lysine, threonine), hydrocotylin, vallerine and fatty acids (linoleic acid, lignocene), oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid). It is most unlikely that gotu-kola would have any performance enhancing potential in sport. Side-effects include: hypersensitivity reactions, dermatitis, pruritis, infertility, abortion and interference with blood sugar control.

Gota-kola is sometimes mistaken for Cola nut. Cola nut is a common ingredient of many food and drink products. It is rich in caffeine and so all foods or beverages containing cola should be restricted in sport. Caffeine is a CNS stimulant and has cardioactive and diuretic propeorties; if taken in sufficient quanitities can enhance performance in sport. A urine caffeine level of 12 micrograms per ml or greater constitutes an offence. As little as six cups of coffee may result in this level in the urine.

Q. Is chromium picolinate a safe supplement for athletes?

A. Chromium is an essential trace element. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of chromium is 50-200 micrograms/day and may be obtained from foods such as wholewheat cereals, cheese, nuts, mushrooms and whole grains. The picolinate salt is available as a food supplement and is actively promoted to increase lean muscle mass, promote weight loss. It is also thought to be involved in uptake of amino acids by muscle and in the formation of glycogen. There is no conclusive evidence to support that chromium supplementation above the RDA is of any advantage to either general health or athletic performance.

Chromium picolinate is widely available through health shops, mail order magazines and the internet. It is actively marketed as an ergogenic aid that provides a safe alternative to natural anabolic steroids. The supplement is particularly popular in weight lifting and body building and most likely taken at doses far in excess of the RDA. Chronic ingestion of high doses of chromium picolinate has been associated with renal failure in an isolated case.

Daily ingestion of chromium picolinate at amounts greater than the RDA cannot be recommended.

There is no substitute to informed advice from Doctors and Pharmacists who have detailed knowledge of the Drugs involved. Guidelines are clear and laid out in another part of this website.

Information for the informed athelete:

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