World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lists many compounds such as beta-agonists, corticosteroids, and narcotics in addition to others. Many substances on the list are detrimental for athletic prowess.
Double-blind trials for amphetamines and other stimulants showed that they can enhance performance in short, explosive activities, such as sprinting. Anabolic steroids have been proved beyond any doubt to increase muscle mass and enhance performance among male athletes in sports that require strength, such as weightlifting and shot-putting; in women, they appear to work for endurance sports as well. History provides more circumstantial evidence:In many sports, the amazing rise in performances came to a halt after the crackdown on anabolic steroids began in earnest in the 1980s, and some records have not been broken since then.
One of the hottest substances of the moment, erythropoietin (EPO), has been tested for performance enhancement in only four double-blind trials, they showed that it increased maximum oxygen uptake and performance, but apparently for short durations only.Data are lacking because rigorous trials are expensive, and there's little incentive to fund them.
The drugs' target population, top athletes, usually can't be recruited into studies because it might ruin their careers. Also, the list of substances and combinations is endless; cyclists once used a cocktail of strychnine, cognac, and cocaine with many side effects.
WADA currently does research to improve detection of human growth hormone, a banned substance that appears to be very popular and is very hard to detect.In healthy people, for instance, an overdose of insulinâ€“another listed substance that few believe does athletes any goodâ€“can lead to a fatal drop in blood sugar levels.
WADA wants to protect athletes from any drug they don't need, if only to send a message to their young fans. Practically anything can end up on WADA's listâ€“and that athletes risk ending their careers by taking something that doesn't bring them one bit closer to a gold medal. (ref: Martin Enserink, Science 1 August 2008:Vol. 321. no. 5889, p. 627)