Anti-Doping Rules in Sports & Best Alternatives to Doping
If you are a competitive athlete, it is imperative that you understand anti-doping rules in sports, what they are, and why they are in place. Alternatives to doping can help athletes increase their endurance, such as cold water immersion and high altitude training. In addition, methods like cold therapy can also aid in athlete recovery.
This article will explain the essentials you need to know about anti-doping rules and provide detailed information on alternatives to doping for athletes of all levels.
What is Doping?
Doping is when an athlete uses prohibited medications, drugs, or treatments to improve their athletic performance. Common doping methods include the use of anabolic drugs/steroids, stimulants, hormones, or oxygen transport.
Prohibiting the use of performance-enhancing substances is an effort to ensure fair competition between athletes .The use of anabolic drugs/steroids increase muscle mass and have been used by athletes competing in strength-based sports like boxing, weight-lifting, and football. Stimulants can increase an athlete’s stamina and decrease their ability to feel pain or fatigue. These are known to have been used in sports like track & field and soccer. Hormones are another way athletes have increased muscle mass. Oxygen transport, also known as blood doping, is when an athlete increases the amount of oxygen in their bloodstream—this is most commonly done by having their blood drawn before a competition and reinfusing it prior to an event.
These doping methods can be dangerous because they unnaturally alter an athlete’s body composition and have many health risks.
Why Athletes Sometimes Use Problematic Substances
Athletes use problematic substances because they can give them an edge over their fellow competitors. While we often think that doping is a problem only at the elite level, it’s also a big problem for high school and college sports and amateur athletes. Problematic substances can increase muscle mass, cut down on recovery time, increase an athlete’s endurance, speed up their recovery time, or even hide the presence of other drugs during screenings.
What Are the Anti-Doping Rules in Sports?
There is not a single anti-doping agency in the United States for all sports so an athlete needs to know and comply with their sport’s anti-doping rules. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is the official anti-doping agency for American Olympics and related teams and they coordinated with the World Anti-Doping Agency for international Olympic sports. According to USADA, a substance or method gets placed on the Prohibited List if it meets two out of three of the following criteria:
- It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance.
- It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete.
- It violates the spirit of sport.
The USADA maintains the Prohibited List to identify substances and methods that are prohibited at all times, in competition only, or in specific sports. In addition, they have a process for therapeutic medical use for substances that are typically banned from use.
What Alternatives Do Athletes Have to Doping?
There are different ways that athletes can perform better and recover more quickly without breaking anti-doping rules, such as cold water immersion, high altitude training, and consuming healthy foods. All of these options are natural, rule-abiding ways to achieve better performance and faster recovery. Below, we will discuss these options in more detail.
Cold water immersion
Cold water immersion (CWI) is when an athlete immerses themself in cold water to expose their body to cold temperatures. This practice builds mental and physical resilience.
CWI also helps athletes who engage in post-workout recovery to accelerate their recovery. This is also helpful for soothing injuries and is also a great treatment option for easing the pain of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). CWI is an excellent anti-doping technique because it can improve an athlete’s heart rate variability—which can reduce stress and enhance exercise recovery times. Products like Ice Barrel enable athletes to easily and frequently practice CWI at home.
High altitude training
High altitude training is when an athlete trains at a higher altitude. The air is thinner in higher altitudes, so there is less oxygen. Training in higher altitudes increases red blood cell production, leading to increased blood oxygen-carrying capacity in an athlete’s body. High altitude training can also improve endurance, especially for athletes competing in lower altitudes.
Consuming a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates is a great doping alternative. Carbohydrates provide energy for the body when metabolized. They are great for increasing an athlete’s endurance and especially helpful for those who play high-intensity intermittent sports like soccer and basketball. It is important to base recommended carbs on an athlete’s training routine and body weight and to decide when carbs will be consumed based on their exercise schedule.
Take an Anti-Doping-Friendly Ice Bath
Cold water immersion is an excellent performance enhancement for athletes that won’t get them on the wrong side of anti-doping restrictions. Cold therapy helps speed muscular recovery post-workout while also improving heart-rate variability. It can also be used as a recovery method for athletes who have sustained injuries. Owning an Ice Barrel is an easy, convenient way to enhance an athlete’s performance and allow their body the benefits of cold water immersion while staying in line with anti-doping rules.