The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has put a number on the amount of illegal steroids seized in 2016.
Astoundingly, 673,906 doses of various drugs were confiscated by various authorities last year, a number that was down significantly on the 1.1 million seized in 2015.
But fears have been raised about the number of illegal anabolic steroids which were taken in.
109,006 doses of anabolic steroids were taken off the streets, a dramatic increase from the 38,049 which were seized in 2015, an indication that steroid use in the country is on the rise.
Sedatives were the most popular drug seized with 271,545 taken, but promisingly this is down from the 726,164 seized in 2015.
“It is particularly noteworthy that anabolic steroids accounted for 16% of products detained, a significant increase compared to 2015,” the HPRA’s director of compliance, John Lynch said.
“The misuse of anabolic steroids has been linked to a range of significant side effects including blood clots, headaches, depression, irritability and stomach pain. People are sourcing these products for purposes of performance enhancement and are either unaware of or ignoring the significant dangers posed by these prescription medicines in the absence of medical supervision.”
He also issued a warning to anyone thinking of purchasing such products on various “untrustworthy sources”.
“It remains a serious concern that people are sourcing medicines from unknown and potentially untrustworthy sources,” Lynch said. “There is absolutely no guarantee that they contain the type or quantity of active substance they say that they do.”
“In some cases they can contain different substances altogether. They can be very dangerous to human health. We emphasise that, while some sites may appear legitimate, they are, too often, a front for illegal activity.”
New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall is suspended four games to begin the 2017 NFL regular season after violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs, the Jets announced Tuesday.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News first reported the news, noting that Marshall tested positive for Adderall. Rich Cimini of ESPN confirmed the report.
“I really just want to apologize for this mistake,” Marshall said in an apology on Twitter. “I inadvertently took medication without an exemption from the league on one occasion.” He added: “It has not happened since and will not happen again. Already looking forward to 2017 and doing whatever I can to help this team win.”
The 21-year-old wideout joined the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2016 and contributed to the tune of 14 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He was also New York’s primary kick and punt returner.
Marshall was expected to see increased playing time on offense in 2017 following the recent release of veteran receiver Brandon Marshall.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Silverstein speculated Guion’s suspension puts his future with the Packers in jeopardy:
Have to think this is the end of the road for Guion with the #Packers. His play last year doesn’t warrant keeping him around until Week 5.
#Packers gave Guion such a small signing bonus – $500K – it’s nothing financially to let him go. They’d clear $1.53M if they let him go.
Guion started 15 games for the Packers in 2016, finishing the year with 30 combined tackles.
The 29-year-old did little to address what was a significant problem for Green Bay: run defense. The Packers ranked 22nd in run defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), per Football Outsiders, and the defensive line was particularly vulnerable in short-yardage situations.
The unit ranked 30th in power success rate, which measures how a team performs with two or fewer yards to go on third and fourth downs, according to Football Outsiders.
Pro Football Focus graded Guion worst among Green Bay’s three regular interior defenders, and his overall mark (50.1) was 63rd at the position.
Christian Ringo, a sixth-round draft pick who appeared in eight games last year, has the inside track on the starting nose tackle job for the first four games in 2017.
Should the Packers release Guion in the coming weeks, they may look for a more proven upgrade over Ringo.
Cognitive-enhancing drugs help chess players to win more games. Researchers found that modafinil and methylphenidate –also known as Ritalin – significantly enhanced players’ performances, while caffeine was also have to have a modest effect.
The team of scientists, led by Klaus Lieb, from the University of Mainz, Germany, were looking at how certain drugs would alter and/or improve the way the brain processes complex information. Because chess involves a range of cognitive processes, including memory, planning and flexibility, it provides a good basis on which to look at the impact of cognitive-enhancing drugs on performance.
In the study, published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, the team performed a randomised trial where players were given modafinil, methylphenidate, caffeine or a placebo. The 39 male chess-playing participants were then asked to play a series of time limited game against chess programme that had been matched to their ability.
Over four days, players were given different drugs or placebos. In total, they analysed over 3,000 chess games.
Their findings showed players that had been given cognitive-enhancing drugs took longer to make moves. This meant games were lost as players ran out of time. However, when they analysed the data to correct for the games lost on time, results indicated the drugs provided a significant increase in players’ scores. Modafinil and methylphenidate showed the biggest improvement, while caffeine was more modest.
“We were surprised to see that players on the drugs played more slowly than normal, indicating that their thought processes seemed to be deeper,” Lieb said. “The key to this work is in understanding that players showed an improvement if under less time pressure. The results themselves would be pretty significant in chess terms. For example, both modafinil and methylphenidate gave an improvement coefficient of around 0.05.
“If we correct for the slowest players, then the effect would be the equivalent of moving a player from say, number 5,000 in the world ranking, to number 3,500 in the world ranking. In a single game, the effect is the equivalent of having the white pieces, every time, which give around a 5% better chance of winning.”
The World Chess Federation introduced anti-doping measures in 2014 to prevent such abuses. However, the scientist say the findings could have other real-life implications: This work also allows us to put a figure on the way that the use of these drugs can affect the way we think in a range of everyday intellectual activities, such as studying for an exam,” Lieb said.
Trevor Robbins, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, was once one of the top 20 chess players in England, commented on the study: “Chess involves several higher brain processes including working memory, planning, cognitive flexibility and cognitive control. Drugs such as modafinil have previously been found to enhance performance of such cognitive functions in laboratory based studies of non-sleep deprived volunteers, although sometimes at the cost of prolonging response times.
“This work, one of the first to study drug effects on chess, shows that these performance enhancements can translate into real-world activities in this study of chess players who improved their performance, though sometimes at the cost of losing on time.”
The sportswear giant Nike was accused of hindering a doping investigation into the elite training group run by Mo Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar according to fresh revelations from a leaked United States Anti-Doping Agency interim report, it has been claimed.
According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, two of the Nike Oregon Project’s elite athletes and Farah’s training partners, the Olympic marathon bronze medallist Galen Rupp and the Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, also submitted “samples that arose suspicion in the doping investigators”.
The latest allegations, based on a leaked Usada report from March 2016, plus hundreds of emails, PDF files and Word documents obtained by the magazine from the Fancy Bears hacker group, have been strongly denied by Nike and the athletes involved. According to the Usada report, Salazar has an “obsession with the testosterone levels of his athletes”.
However Usada hit a brick wall when it asked the legendary endurance coach for all his notes, documents and emails containing the words “testosterone”, “Testoboost” or “Testo”. He apparently refused, saying they were on the Nike server and belonged to the company. Der Spiegel reports that Nike, when approached by Usada, said that although it was not averse to cooperating it wanted to sign a “confidentiality agreement” which Usada reportedly considered so restrictive that its lawyer William Bock accused it of making “unreasonable demands”.
After weeks of negotiations Bock reportedly wrote to Nike on 21 January 2016 to say: “If accepted, your amendments would give to Nike: 1) Unilateral control over Usada’s use of documents already in Usada’s possession. 2) The ability to prevent Usada from using documents in a hearing. And 3) The potential capacity to interfere with, delay or impede Usada’s investigation in a myriad of ways.”
Nike rejected the criticism and has pointed out the company had sent thousands of pages of documents to Usada. A Nike spokesman told the Guardian the company had done so “even though Usada has no legal right to request or access the documents and has never informed Nike of the precise nature of its investigation. Nike undertook this effort because it strongly believes in clean sport and does not tolerate the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”
The spokesman said Nike “has not tried to obstruct” Usada and added: “Nike requested confidentiality because Usada’s requests were so broad and expansive that responding to them would include producing documents that contained sensitive, irrelevant and sometimes very personal information about Oregon Project athletes and others unrelated to Usada’s purported investigation.”
Two of the Nike Oregon Project’s most famous athletes are also referred to in the Usada report, according to the magazine. It claims that on 14 January 2016 Usada’s science director, Matthew Fedoruk, received an email from his test results division. In it, a Usada employee reportedly noted of a test on Rupp that “T/E is elevated compared to athlete’s previous pattern in samples”. The relationship between testosterone and epitestosterone is around 1:1 and when elevated it can be an indicator of possible doping. According to Der Spiegel, Fedoruk ordered further tests, but the outcome of those tests is not known. Rupp, who was tested 14 times last year, denies ever taking testosterone.
Meanwhile, before the Rio Olympics, Usada employees sent internal emails about the hemoglobin value and reticulocyte count in a sample provided by Centrowitz, who was tested 17 times last year. According to Der Spiegel, in one email a Usada scientist wrote that the sample exhibited a “suspicious profile” and the investigators agreed to test him again “in the next week or two.” However the emails do not provide any indication of whether that happened, while Centrowitz told Der Spiegel that he was never contacted by Usada and “is dedicated to a clean sport”.
According to Der Spiegel, Usada’s report also says that Salazar banned his athletes from speaking about the vitamins and medications they take, even among themselves – but used high levels of vitamin D to try to increase the production of hormones – with doses of 50,000 international units well above the recommended dose of 600 international units.
Salazar has consistently strongly denied committing any anti-doping violations and insists that he has always complied with the anti-doping code. In a statement last week he said: “I believe in a clean sport and a methodical, dedicated approach to training. The Oregon Project will never permit doping and all Oregon Project athletes are required to comply with the Wada Code and IAAF Rules. I do not use supplements that are banned.”
There is no suggestion Farah has done anything wrong and on Saturday he told the Observer that he was more than happy for his blood samples to be retested after claims that Usada wanted them checked for the banned blood-boosting drug EPO.“I’m not aware of any request,” he said. “But as I’ve said many times, I’m happy to be tested any time, anywhere and have any of my samples tested or retested now or at any time in the future, by any official body.”
A European study has revealed that the majority of university students believe it is the social norm to use drugs like Ritalin to enhance academic performance – despite very few having used stimulants themselves.
The project looked at attitudes towards the ‘non-medical use of prescription medicines’ among university students in seven EU countries and was co-authored by Dr Robert Dempsey, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, alongside colleagues across Europe.
A sample of 4,482 students from the UK, Belgium, Germany, Slovak Republic, Denmark, Spain and Turkey were surveyed online for the study with the highest approval rate of the Ritalin use among UK students (male 46.9 percent, female 24.3 percent) and the lowest approval in Turkey (male 11.7 percent, female 11.7 percent).
“The ‘social norms’ approach was developed in the US and the majority of the research has been with US students – so there’s a lack of research in the EU and UK. There have been very limited studies into Ritalin use in the EU in particular so we wanted to explore this.” explained Dr Dempsey.
Adding, “We found that use of Ritalin by students to enhance their academic performance was perceived to be majority behaviour by most students, and that use of Ritalin to improve performance was perceived to be equally or more acceptable amongst peers.”
Dr Dempsey Further said, “Interestingly, only 6 percent of our overall sample reported ever using Ritalin themselves – so there seems to be a difference between what students perceive to be a social norm versus what actually happens.” 59 percent of students thought that the majority of their peers used non-prescribed stimulants more frequently than themselves, and only 4% thought that the use of the majority was lower than their personal use.
There were also differences within the universities themselves. For example, students in medicine-related faculties often report use of substances, possibly as a means to cope with particularly demanding courses.
Dr Dempsey believes these attitudes towards substance use may be the result of high levels of academic-related stress widely reported among university students. “There is growing evidence that students today report feeling a significant amount of pressure to succeed in their studies – perhaps because of increased tuition fees or more competition for graduate jobs. This could explain why they believe that others may be using Ritalin to perform better.”
Adding, “However our findings uncover a more worrying issue – if Ritalin use is thought to be a common and acceptable behaviour then over time we could see an increase in the number of students who use such drugs.”
Previous studies into alcohol use have shown that a highly influential factor in predicting substance use behaviour in young people is the perception of the behaviour among peers.Dr Dempsey thinks that the best way to tackle this is to highlight to students that what they believe is the social norm is far from the truth.
“It’s about challenging myths through information, not me as a lecturer saying “don’t do this”, rather making students aware of the fact that their perceptions don’t match the reality of what their fellow students actually do,” Dr Dempsey explained. “Hopefully if they realise that very few of their peers use stimulants like Ritalin then students will be more likely to question whether they should use drugs like this themselves.”
The study ‘Personal and perceived peer use and attitudes towards the use of non medical prescription stimulants to improve academic performance among university students in seven European countries’ was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Even as the sports ministry’s task force begins the exercise to spot potential medal winners for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games, they better keep a watch on the National Anti Doping Agency’s (NADA) January newsletter, which reveals that more athletes at the grassroots are taking shortcut to fame.
At least three dope cheats named in the newsletter — and facing provisional suspension — are from schools and colleges.
Salim, a college-level high jumper, failed dope test during the 2016 edition of the Delhi University inter-college competition in December. An outstanding performance could have helped him earn a place in the university team for the All India Inter Varsity.
Teenage shot-putter Jashanpreet Kaur was caught doping during the 19th CBSE national athletic meet in January last year, hinting that drugs are becoming increasingly common at grassroots level.
According to Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official, Arun Mehdiratta (head of the medical panel) winning gold in the CBSE meet doesn’t ensure one a place in the Indian team. “Why fringe athletes are taking drugs intrigues me.”
Some athletes are even taking drugs at the state level. Take for example young thrower Smritkhana Mana from West Bengal who failed a dope test during the state meet last May in Kolkata. All three athletes could end up being banned for four years.
Last year, among the 80-odd athletes who failed dope tests, 20 were school and college-going.
With the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) cutting down on testing in top national competitions, there is the likelihood that low-key events such as the CBSE and state-level competitions will get even lesser attention.
NADA took just five urine samples during the 65th All India Police volleyball cluster meet at Visakhapatnam (December, 2016). Four samples were collected during the All India Police hockey championship in Jammu (December, 2016).
Besides, only 12 players were tested during the hockey junior World Cup at Lucknow in December, an abysmal number considering the level of competition.
New Jersey lawmakers are trying to keep young athletes in the weight room and away from career-threatening performance-enhancing drugs.
A bill that would support this is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s signature after easily winning Assembly and Senate approval.
Bill S367 would appropriate $45,000 to the state Department of Education to help restore year-round random drug testing by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
The association’s current policy calls for drug testing of athletes only right before or during state championship competition. The consequence for failing a drug test is a one-year suspension of the player.
One of the bill’s sponsors is Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex/Morris, an avid follower of New Jersey sports and a long-time youth basketball coach.
“While coaches continue to play an important role in encouraging safe and healthy practices for improving performance and are best positioned to recognize any red flags among student-athletes, the responsibility must be shared by the schools and the community,” Codey said in a statement. “By raising awareness and educating our students about the dangers of using steroids and other supplements, we can prevent the problem before it even begins.”
As acting governor in 2005, Codey signed an executive order that escalated drug testing of high school athletes. The same year, a task force recommended increased efforts by coaches to educate players on the risks of drug use, while promoting healthy nutrition. At the time, the task force reported that 3.4 percent of high school senior athletes in the state had used steroids at least once in their lives, while 1.9 percent of eighth-graders admitted to trying steroids.
Tim Lengle, Rider University’s head athletic trainer, was a member of that task force. He said that a turning point came from testimony of the parents of the late Taylor Hooton, a Plano, Texas, high school baseball player who took his own life in 2003. The 17-year-old suffered depression after discontinuing use of anabolic steroids. The Taylor Hooton Foundation now helps fight steroid abuse.
“Some people associate steroid abuse only with the huge guy in the gym,” Lengle said. “But there are many different kinds of abusers. It’s important to know the kind of negative impact they can have on the body.”
Steroid abuse can cause serious health problems, especially for adolescents. These side effects could include testicular atrophy and enlarged breasts for males, and excessive hairiness and altered menstrual cycles for females, Lengle said.
Besides increased testing, the bill would require high school coaches to set up educational programs aimed at deterring drug use while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Lengle said that while this may seem like a great idea, coaches might have to educate themselves first.
“Some high school coaches may not be the right people to set up these courses.” he said. “Some coaches are also physical education teachers, and these people know how to guide students towards nutrition and healthy living. But some coaches may not be willing to sit through a course on the dangers of steroid abuse. We need to find the happy medium where students are getting a quality education about this kind of thing.”
The bill was sent to the Governor’s Office, which has not commented on whether it will sign it.