Most people know that steroids are banned substances in high school sports as well as in professional sports. But you may not be aware that ephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicine, is also a banned substance. Or, products that contain high levels of caffeine are now being discouraged from use in high school athletes. Knowing which substances are banned and discouraged could help control your future health. Steroids have been banned from sports for years since doctors and the public learned about the damage they can cause to individuals. Steroids stimulate the hormone testosterone. Testosterone controls the muscle’s size, strength and repair. This can be a problem because it gives some athletes an edge over others. The one thing steroid users often overlook is that steroids do not improve athletic skills, agility, flexibility, or aerobic capacity. Steroids also cause severe acne, stunt growth, produce major mood swings, increase hostile behaviors and cause severe depression. Another substance banned by the WIAA is ephedrine. It is sold almost anywhere; and it is found in cold medicines, energy drinks and weight loss products. Other names for ephedrine are citrus Aurantium, Synephrite and Ma Huang. Many people use it to lose weight and gain energy but the risks are more severe. But ephedrine causes these health risks when done in combination with exercise; strokes, seizures, increased heart rate that can lead to cardiac arrest and heat illnesses. Recently, the WIAA added several new substances to their list for athletes to think twice about before using. They include; Creatine, Caffeine-enhanced products, energy drinks, herbal caffeine, Vivarin, AAKG, co Enzyme Q, IIMB, No Doz, N02, Ginseng, Pyruvate, Protein Powders, Amino Acids, L-Carnitite, CLA and Chromium Piconlinate. “The big difference between discouraged and banned substances lye in the name, banned has actions taken against eligibility, and banned has no negative repercussions,” said Mike McHugh, the Deforest High School Athletic Activities Coordinator. According to a study done by John Wilson, M.D., a UW Sports Medicine Doctor, energy drinks, or just plain caffeine, is a harmful way to energize your body. Desired affects such as alertness, increased energy, endurance and increased metabolism are gained from caffeine. But high amounts of caffeine can increase your heart rate, lead to tachycardia, heart palpitations, hear arrhythmias and dependence. Kirsten, a senior wrestler and soccer player said “After learning the side affects of caffeine, I might think twice about drinking a Mountain Dew. O.K, maybe I won’t but at least I know that it is bad for me.” “A big risk is that people don’t know what they are putting into their bodies,” said Jolene Atkins, the Deforest High School Athletic trainer. What is Deforest doing to help control the problem surround performance enhancing substances? Mr. McHugh said that “[We] are training coaches to directly talk to athletes about steroids. Also, at the fall sports meeting we distributed information concerning PES (Performance Enhancing Substances). At this time, we do not conduct drug testing because it is expensive, but if a coach notices a change in an athlete or some side affects, they are suppose to check into the matter.” The best thing to do is read labels. If there is a substance that looks questionable, ask a coach or trainer before using it. Or if you see some one drastically changing physique wise, report your concern to a sports authority personal. “I don’t want anyone to get into trouble but I would hope kids are monitoring other kids. That would prevent athletes from getting into trouble and help protect them from possible health problems,” said Mr. McHugh.
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