Performance Enhancing Drugs and the Olympics

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about performance enhancing drugs and athletics, especially the Olympics.

How are beta-blockers used as a doping agent in sports?

In the normal population, beta-blockers are prescribed to treat heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure, angina, hypertension and heart attacks. Athletes use beta-blockers in sports because of how the drug blocks adrenaline in the body. Beta-blockers can cause a slowed heart rate. This makes the heart work more efficiently and causes less anxiety. This is particularly effective in athletes who compete in rifle and archery, so beta-blockers are banned because they can improve accuracy in these sports. There are some very specific exemptions for the use of beta-blockers in sports on the international stage for cardiovascular issues, but rarely do high caliber athletes at the Olympic level suffer from these issues.

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Source: Corinne Lyons, MA, AT, CSCS, Premier Health Sports Medicine, Upper Valley Medical Center; World Anti-Doping Agency, US Anti-Doping Agency