11 April 2008

Tylenol is a PED?

Ibupropherin appears to cause potential PED effect in geriatric patients:

Taking daily recommended dosages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen caused a substantially greater increase over placebo in the amount of quadriceps muscle mass and muscle strength gained during three months of regular weight lifting, in a study by physiologists at the Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University.

Thirty-six men and women, between 60 and 78 years of age (average age 65), were randomly assigned to daily dosages of either ibuprofen (such as that in Advil), acetaminophen (such as that in Tylenol), or a placebo. The dosages were identical to those recommended by the manufacturers and were selected to most closely mimic what chronic users of these medicines were likely to be taking . . . All subjects participated in three months of weight training, 15-20 minute sessions conducted in the Human Performance Laboratory three times per week. The researchers knew from their own and other studies that training at this intensity and for this time period would significantly increase muscle mass and strength. They expected the placebo group to show such increases, as its members did, but they were surprised to find that the groups using either ibuprofen or acetaminophen did even better . . . Over three months, says Dr. Trappe, the chronic consumption of ibuprofen or acetaminophen during resistance training appears to have induced intramuscular changes that enhance the metabolic response to resistance exercise, allowing the body to add substantially more new protein to muscle . . . One of the foci of Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory is the adaptation of the elderly to exercise. Another is the loss of muscle mass that takes place when astronauts are exposed to long-term weightlessness. This work has implications for both groups, says Dr. Trappe.

So where is the line?

What qualifies as a performance enhancing drug?

Now, we would all agree that steroids and hGH (though not enough evidence has come forward to show that hGH does anything to improve performance . . . really we have one, not repeated, study that is unpublished) belong on that list, but what about these:

amphetamines (many would say yes)
cortizone shots
any pain relief medication (tylenol to codeine)
sleeping pills
oxygen (hyperbolic chambers)
protein shakes

The truth is that everyday things would increase performance. Tylenol has been shown to increase muscle mass in one population (this is actually more evidence than we have for hGH) So what criteria should be used?

The only thing I can think of, and perhaps others will enlighten me, is that PEDs are pretty much a misnomer. In fact, what is meant is actually illegal and illegally-obtained drugs are what is illegal. This would mean that what is being referred to as "PEDs" are not cheating, rather they are punishable because the players are violating the common law. Of course, punishment is greater for using steroids instead of cocaine. The idea being that steroids help with performance and are illegal. So what with drugs that assist in performance, but are legal? Add to that that the powers that be make claims that certain substances are performance enhancing when there is no conclusive proof of it. A system that punishes based on the illegality of the drug would make more sense because we lack so much knowledge and have accumulated so much misinformation about "PEDs."

What we are left with is a punishment system in baseball that is just knee-jerky. There is no rhyme or reason to what is banned and how punishments are carried out except to court public and congressional opinion. This irritates me because it would be so simple to put forward consistent and stable drug abuse guidelines. Now, I am not writing that steroids should be legal and free for use. I am writing that though the system gets some things right, it uses haphazardly conditional statements that are often contradictory. This is a brave new world.

1 comment:

dubbschism said...

don't forget to add to the list of PED's: icing one's arm with an illegally obtained ice pack.

i think the issue here is that the "bad" PEDs carry much greater health risks than the "good" ones - which is really the cause of their illegal status. although i'm not entirely sure that anyone would get crucified for taking a cortisone shot without a valid dr.'s rx - not that it would ever happen because team doctors probably dole those out like viagra in a naples clinic, quite legally to be sure. yes, a tylenol overdose can cause hepatic failure and too much weightlifting can cause joint injuries but no one is breaking the law in these situations.