As a swimmer, you spend hours in the pool training, time planning nutritious meals, and in between all of that, try to meet the demands of work or school. But hard work does pay off. Think of how horrible it would be after months of preparation for your big swim event to find out that you've been using a product with banned substances or taking a supplement that isn't high quality and may be manufactured with questionable ingredients.
Here at P2Life, we take athlete safety and health very seriously and only use approved ingredients in our products. We'll cover some of the most common banned substances that are found out on the market, and for more detailed information on each substance that is banned, please refer to the World Anti-Doping Agency website.
1. Anabolic Agents
These lab-produced, synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone are used by some athletes to boost their performance. This muscle building drug is usually taken orally or injected, and has serious side effects including paranoia, irritability, and ultimately kidney and liver damage over the long term.
2. Peptide Hormones & Growth Factors
Athletes need to be careful about having abnormal traces of these substances since they're used mainly to treat cancer and some pathological conditions. Abuse of these substances is used to accelerate cell production, as well as carbohydrate and fat metabolism. These systems occur naturally in your body and abuse of these substances can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetes.
3. Beta-2 Agonists
This is a category where athletes need to be especially cautious since some swimmers may use this category of drug, usually inhaled, to help with asthma symptoms. The World Anti-Doping Agency makes some exceptions but is very clear on the amount limits that can be found in an athlete's system, stating that "The presence in urine of salbutamol in excess of 1000 ng/mL or formoterol in excess of 40 ng/mL is presumed not to be an intended therapeutic use of the substance and will be considered as an Adverse Analytical Finding."1Check with your doctor and team physician to make sure you are within the guidelines and not at risk for being penalized. When athletes who don't need them for a medical condition use these drugs, they can lead to heart palpitations and muscle cramps, so avoid them if they're not medically necessary.
4. Hormone & Metabolic Modulators
These substances act to either decrease the amount of oestrogen in the body or block the oestrogen receptors, and are used by athletes to either increase testosterone or counter the undesirable effects from other steroid drugs, like gynecomastia, which is enlarged breast tissue in men. Besides being on the banned substances list, use of these drugs can be dangerous since side effects include venous thrombosis and gastrointestinal disorders.
5. Diuretics & Masking Agents
If you're not taking these under a doctor's care for a medical condition, avoid them. Abuse can not only disqualify you, it can lead to potassium depletion and worst case, death. Athletes use these substances to increase urination for rapid weight loss and to also hide the presence of other drugs. These are extremely dangerous for swimmers who need adequate levels of hydration at all times - losing too much body fluid can put you at risk for adverse effects like electrolyte imbalance and lasting negative effects on cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
Overall, it's not worth it to use any item on the banned substance list to alter your performance. You run the risk of being disqualified as a competitive swimmer, and you'll be doing lasting damage to your body. Enhance your performance with the right nutrition, adequate sleep, and proper hydration. For more articles on nutrition for swimmers, subscribe to our P2Life blog today.