Performance Enhancing Drugs: The Ugly Side

In the world of competitive swimming, rather competitive sports, the vulnerability and desperation to be the best can make athletes lean towards performance enhancing drugs (PED).

Although, these can help improve performance through number of physical and physiological benefit, they can also equally cause plenty of side effects.

Here’s a breakdown of each category of banned substance and their respective harmful effects.

Blood doping:

Banned blood transfusions to increase blood volume or injecting erythropoietin -the hormone that makes red blood cells can enhance oxygen availability but,

can simultaneously lead to blood clots, increase pressure on the heart and even stroke!

Testosterone boosters/ Anabolic steroids:

These can increase muscle mass and further strength and power however, they also cause

Liver damage, male pattern baldness, acne, impotence, hormonal imbalance, permanent reproductive mal-changes for both female as well male athletes etc.

Human Growth hormone, Insulin etc:

These are anabolic hormones that cause the growth of muscle tissue and gather similar benefits such as that of anabolic steroids. These hormones are often taken as a part of a steroid cycle in various doses for specific time frames.

These can cause hypertension, loss of vision, enlarged limbs, diabetes, anemia, thyroid issues, heart attacks and even cancer in some cases.


These can cause anxiety, insomnia, dehydration, weight loss, tremors, increased heart rate and blood pressure and further increased risk of heart diseases.

Above are the most commonly abused substances. Unfortunately, many athletes fail to realise the side effects which can most often be permanent. It is important to realise that winning in the most safe, acceptable and healthy manner really defines success. All other means are nothing but a temporary shot at victory which shall eventually fade away.

Author: Mihira A R Khopkar

B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition


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