Common Types of PED: Performance Enhancing Drugs

Performance Enhancing Drugs

There have been cases of athletes doping in sports to give them an advantage over other athletes. These athletes face a lot of pressure to be the best, win a medal for their countries so no wonder they take these drugs.

However, recently there has been a high intake of performance-enhancing drugs among teenagers. This is also due to pressure to look a certain way. Most of them take these drugs not knowing the dangerous effects that they are exposing themselves to.

Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) like the name suggests are drugs that are used to improve any sports activity.

“When athletes lose sight of the meaning of fair competition by taking performance-enhancing substances, they put their future health at risk and compromise their ability to practice sportsmanship” (Dandoy and Gereige, 2012).

Common Types of PEDs

Anabolic Steroids

These are synthetically made versions of testosterone hormone. The hormone has two major effects on the body

  1. Athletes and non-athletes take this to increase their muscle mass and strength.
  2. Makes an individual develop male traits like facial hair.

Human Growth Hormone

This drug has anabolic effects used to improve the performance of the athlete and increase their muscle mass. Initially, the hormone was used to treat young adults who needed a change in the composition of their bodies.

But athletes use it for their anabolic effects.


This is a PED commonly used by endurance athletes like cyclists. Medically this drug helps in the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. The athletes use it because it helps oxygen movement with the body’s organs and muscles.

“Erythropoietin use among competitive cyclists was common in the 1990s and allegedly contributed to at least 18 deaths. Inappropriate use of erythropoietin may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and blockage in an artery in the lung (pulmonary embolism)” (Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks, 2020).


These are drugs that are used to stimulate the nervous system of the individual. Athletes use them to increase the body’s energy, stamina, and muscle strength.

An example of such a drug is Ephedrine. Medically it is used to treat diseases like asthma but athletes use it to improve their performance.


These are used to promote loss of water in the body. Diuretics are drugs that change the balance of the body’s water and electrolytes.

Athletes who use this kind of drug are taking PEDs and are trying to pass a urine test. The diuretic dilutes the urine by promoting water loss, if a test is taken then the test results will be false.

These drugs are also known as masking agents.

Effects of Taking PEDs

Taking drug performance drugs also come with risks for the individual. Unfortunately, some of these side effects can be permanent and irreversible.

  1. Side effects affecting Male

These effects affect the male individual. They are:

  • Impotence

Long term use of these performance-enhancing drugs like testosterone made the male individuals impotent. The use of the drugs gradually reduced the production of sperms which eventually makes the male no longer able to fertilize the female egg.

  • Shrinking of Testicles.

The use of these drugs also reduced the size of the male’s testicles.

  • Promotes Breast Development.

The use of drugs led to the development of breast tissue for male individuals.

  1. Side Effects Affecting the Female

These effects are focused on the female individual taking these drugs.

  • Promotes Hair growth.

Unfortunately, not the growth of hair on the female’s head but the promotion of growth in places like the face, chest hair, body hair like a man’s body.

It makes the female individual have a body similar to the man.

  • Deepening of the voice.

The use of the drugs also makes the voice of the woman to be deeper like a man’s. This effect is permanent even if they stop taking the drugs.

  • Disrupts menstrual cycle.

A drug like synthetic testosterone is still a hormone. These hormones disrupt the natural menstrual cycle of the female individual or athlete.

  1. Physiological effects.

These effects affect both males and females. They are not effects that one can physically observe but are still noticeable as some affect one’s mood and health too.

  1. Long term abuse of diuretics can lead to Renal injury. This affects the kidneys as these drugs do cause an imbalance between water and electrolytes in the body.
  2. Long-term use of stimulants like ephedrine causes side effects like tremors, irritability, anxiety, and headache.
  3. The use of these drugs in teens and young adults who want to change their body composition will lead to stunted growth and puberty disruption.
  4. Long term use of anabolic drugs can improve the risks of cardiovascular diseases and cause a heart attack. These drugs also make the heart muscle thick.
  5. Individuals who take these drugs are also easily irritable and are very aggressive which makes the situation worse.
  6. Long term use of drugs also leads to an increase in sexual appetite. This is because of an increase in the testosterone hormone in the body.
  7. There is a risk of diseases like HIV/AIDS. This is because some of these drugs are administered through injections. If the individuals are sharing needles among them then they are at risk of contracting this disease.
  8. If an individual decides to withdraw from taking these drugs may need professional help. There are side effects to withdrawal and the major one is Depression. This may also lead an individual towards suicide.


One can easily tell the difference between an athlete taking these kinds of drugs because of the changes in the body composition or whether they are being aggressive.

But in the sports world, athletes are tested regularly to ensure that they are clean. A common way to do this is by taking urine tests. This test will confirm the use of these drugs. That is why there are agencies such as Anti-doping agencies that ensure that these rules are not flouted.

If an athlete is caught doping by the agency, strict measures are taken. They are suspended from practicing their sport for a long time and are forced to forfeit their medals.

In the end, the risks of these drugs outweigh the benefits besides, it is better to win a medal with one’s own ability without the help of any drug. Besides, the risks outweigh the benefits.