Of Viagra and misplaced ‘performance’ | india | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Dec 14, 2017-Thursday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Of Viagra and misplaced ‘performance’

Marywood University is conducting study, financed by the World Anti-doping agency, whether the pill, used for erectile dysfunction among men, could help enhance performance in sports fields also.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2008 23:28 IST

Faced with increasing anti-doping tests, athletes and sportspersons may have a new performance enhancing drug — Viagra.

Marywood University is conducting study, financed by the World Anti-doping agency, whether the pill, used for erectile dysfunction among men, could help enhance performance in sports fields also.

The aim of the study, the New York Times says, is to determine whether it creates unfair competitive advantage in dilating an athlete's blood vessels and unduly increasing oxygen-carrying capacity and if the agency should move to ban the drug which being currently widely used to enhance performance in the bed room.

Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, was devised to treat pulmonary hypertension in arteries of the lungs, the paper notes, explaining that it works by suppressing an enzyme that controls blood flow, allowing the vessels to relax and widen.

The same mechanism facilitates blood flow into the penis of impotent men. In the case of athletes, increased cardiac output and more efficient transport of oxygenated fuel to the muscles can enhance endurance, it adds.

"Basically, it allows you to compete with a sea level, or near-sea level, aerobic capacity at altitude," Kenneth W Rundell, the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Marywood, was quoted as saying.

According to the reports, interest in the drug among antidoping experts was further increased by a study conducted at Stanford University and published in 2006 in The Journal of Applied Physiology. The study indicated that some participants taking Viagra improved their performances by nearly 40 percent in 10-kilometer cycling time trials conducted at a simulated altitude of 12,700 feet - a height far above general elite athletic competition. Viagra did not significantly enhance performance at sea level, where blood vessels are fully dilated in healthy athletes.

At this point, there is no evidence of widespread use of Viagra by elite athletes, US anti-doping chief executive Travis Tygart said. Yet, because the drug is not prohibited and thus not screened for, there is no way to know precisely how popular it is. It is suspected that Viagra is used to circumvent doping controls in cycling, which has faced many scandals.

The agency, based in Montreal, is financing two studies related to Viagra and performance enhancement in sports.