The term "ergogenic" stems from the Greek roots--"Ergon" and "genes," meaning "work" and "born," respectively. Any means of enhancing energy production or utilization may be described as an ergogenic aid. (1) Ergogenic aids have classically been classified into five categories: mechanical, psychological, physiologic, pharmacologic, and nutritional. (2) The present use of the term "ergogenic aid" usually revolves around the physiologic, pharmacologic, and nutritional categories.
While ergogenic aids have been linked to athletic "doping," the terms are not synonymous. Doping is a term used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to describe the administration or use of a substance by a competing athlete with the sole intention of increasing in an artificial and unfair manner his or her performance in competition. (3) Not all ergogenic aids are banned by the IOC. A partial listing of substances banned by the United States Olympic Committee is found in Table 1.2,3 Table 2 provides a list of commonly used athletic ergogenic aids.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are testosterone derivatives that exert anabolic (tissue building) and androgenic (masculinizing) influences on the body. (3) Since the discovery of the chemical structure of testosterone in 1935, attempts to separate the anabolic and androgenic effects of AAS have been unsuccessful. (3) Athletes have been using AAS since the 1940s in efforts to improve their performance. (2) Concerned with widespread abuse of AAS among athletes, the IOC banned AAS use in the early 1960s. (2) The Anabolic Steroids Control Act was legalized in 1990, making it a felony to possess or distribute AAS for non-medical purposes in the United States. (3,4) Oral, parenteral, transdermal, and intra-nasal forms of AAS are available. The vast majority of AAS used by athletes is thought to be obtained on the "black market," as only an estimated 10% to 15% of AAS used by athletes for performance enhancement are obtained by prescription. (3)
AAS are believed to exert their main effect by increasing anabolic processes and inhibiting catabolic processes via specific receptor mediated responses within the target cells. (5) Effects of AAS include: the anabolic build-up of muscle mass, the androgenic development of secondary male sexual characteristics, an anti-catabolic reversal of cortisol's action, and a direct psychological effect thought to allow a more intense and sustained workout. (2,5-8) Early studies of AAS and athletes produced mixed results. (5,6) More recent reviews support the notions that AAS can provide significant increases in muscle mass and strength in athletes. (2,5,6) In order to maximize the effects of AAS on strength and power athletes, an adequate diet and exercise regimen is needed. (5) There seems to be little advantage gained while using AAS in the untrained individual. (5,9) Benefits obtained from AAS are more established in strength-dependent sports. Data supporting increased aerobic capacity and improved endurance with AAS use is limited and inconclusive. (4) AAS effect on endurance sports is currently an area of great interest given the large number of endurance athletes who still use AAS. (4,10)
An intricate terminology describing the dosing practices of...