The study made a distinction between physical doping (steroids, EPO, human growth hormone, etc.) and cognitive doping (antidepressants, beta-blockers, modafinil, methylphenidate, etc.), but the results were still eye opening given the sample size:
- 13% admitted to physical doping (steroids, EPO, human growth hormone, other physical enhancements) ;
- 15% admitted to cognitive doping (antidepressants, beta-blockers, modafinil, methylphenidate, etc.);
- 10% admitted to both physical and cognitive doping;
- 20% admitted to physical doping at Ironman European championships Frankfurt.
But taking a closer look at the study I can see that the key question in the survey for "physical enhancements" asks if you've taken substances that can "...only be prescribed by a doctor, are available in a pharmacy, or can be bought on the black market (e.g. anabolic steroids, erythropoietin, stimulants, growth hormones) to enhance your physical performance". Now that could be a lot of things, including diet pills, Viagra, Rogaine, organic supplements, you name it. I mean, I've heard that some athletes take these things (ha, ha). So even though one might conclude performance enhancement is pervasive among these athletes, one can't quite conclude that all Ironmen are going all Lance Armstrong on us.
One thing for sure, the path to enhancing the body through substances is a slippery slope. It may not be for a specific race goal, and could just be the pervasiveness to enhance the body. The study ends by concluding:
"The use of substances to improve physical and cognitive performance was associated on both levels of legality (enhancement vs. doping) suggesting that athletes do not use substances for a specific goal but may have a general propensity to enhance. This finding is important for understanding why people use such substances. Consequently, more effective prevention programs against substance abuse and doping could be developed."What do you guys think...is doping pervasive in Ironman? I've known of a few individuals who went full BALCO to do their best at the Ironman World Championships, but quite frankly, they were the type to skirt the rules of life in general.
And I know about you ultra runners....unless you count Vespa, tattoos, big beards, or an extraordinary amount of aid station Oreos as physical performance enhancers, you're pretty clean. ;-)