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Drugs and Supplements Used to Improve Athletic Performance

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   These headlines may be familiar, whether or not you are a sports fan: professional athletes are caught using anabolic steroids; an athlete's death is linked with dietary supplement use; Olympic athletes are stripped of medals after failing drug tests. More alarmingly, studies have shown that high school-aged – and even younger children - use anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances. A 2006 study estimated that the proportion of boys using anabolic steroids (including androstenedione) within the past year was about 2% in the 8th grade and 3% in the 12th grade. The estimate for girls was 1% in both the 8th and 12th grades. This equates to hundreds of thousands of adolescents taking these body-altering substances.

   The use of performance-enhancing substances seems to have exploded over the last 2 decades. Factors fueling this explosion probably include increases in drug discovery and the availability of information, heavy promotion of dietary supplements, and greater rewards for athletic success.

   Sports-governing agencies ban the use of some (but not all) supplements, drugs, and other substances that boost athletic performance. Prohibited substances include anabolic agents, stimulants, peptide hormones, and diuretics.


Publication Date: 04/01/2008
Expiration Date: 05/01/2011
CE Credit: 1.5 (0.15 CEU)
Type of Activity: Knowledge-based

This program was developed by The Rx Consultant and published by Continuing Education Network, Inc. The Rx Consultant accepts no advertising or financial support from the pharmaceutical industry and is funded solely by the purchase of programs. The Rx Consultant is dedicated to providing unbiased, balanced information to health care practitioners.

Programs developed by The Rx Consultant are written by health care providers with expertise in the topic area, peer-reviewed, extensively edited, and fact-checked. This development process was created to insure that every program presents information that is current, accurate, relevant to "real world" health care providers, and written in an easy reading, "plain English" style.


Peter J. Ambrose, Pharm.D., FASHP, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Willis Shu, Pharm.D., MBA, Pharmacy Practice Resident, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Long Beach, CA.

Disclosure Statement

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose with regard to any of the products and services discussed in the article. Peter J. Ambrose discloses that he receives compensation from the National Center for Drug Free Sport when conducting drug testing collections for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Guest Editorial Advisor

Guest Editor: Mary L. Chavez, Pharm.D., Professor, Texas A & M Health Science Center College of Pharmacy, Kingsville, TX.

Target Audience

This accredited program is targeted to pharmacists and nurses.

Goals & Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

    1. State 3 reasons why some athletes take performance-enhancing drugs and supplements.
    2. List 5 drug classes or supplements used to enhance athletic performance. Describe the potential harmful effects of each.
    3. Identify 3 national or international sports-governing agencies that have doping control policies. Discuss the complexities involved in complying with the policies of multiple agencies.
    4. Describe the role of community practitioners in helping athletes with medication management and doping control.

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The Rx Consultant is a publication of Continuing Education Network, Inc.

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ACPE Universal Activity Number: 428-0000-08-004-H01-P

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Upon successful completion of this program and the post test (70%), 1.5 hours of continuing education credit will be awarded. To receive credit and your exam score, please complete the exam questions and program evaluation.

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Chief Editor and CE Administrator

Terry M. Baker, PharmD

Managing Editor

Tracy Farnen, PharmD

Associate Editors

James Chan, PharmD, PhD
Pharmacy Quality and Outcomes Coordinator
Kaiser Permanente
Oakland, CA

Associate Clinical Professor
School of Pharmacy
University of California San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

Richard Ron Finley, B.S. Pharm.,R.Ph.
Clinical Pharmacist (volunteer faculty)
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Memory and Aging Center
Lecturer (Emeritus) UCSF, Department of Clinical Pharmacy
Health Sciences Clinical Professor, UCSF School of Pharmacy
San Francisco, CA

Consultant Pharmacist
Ray Dolby Brain Health Center, Sutter Health/CPMC
San Francisco, CA

Consult Pharmacist Aging and Adult Health Services
San Francisco Health Department
San Francisco, CA

Julio R. Lopez, PharmD, FCSHP
Chief of Pharmacy Service
VA Northern California Health Care System

Adjunct Clinical Professor
College of Pharmacy
Touro University
Vallejo, CA

Assistant Clinical Professor
School of Pharmacy
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA Adjunct Professor
Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy
University of the Pacific
Stockton, CA

Visiting Associate Professor and Lecturer
Nursing School
Samuel Merritt University
Oakland, CA

Pamela Mausner, MD

Helen Berlie, Pharm.D. CDE, BCACP
Clinical Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

Ambulatory Care Specialist - Diabetes
Health Centers Detroit Medical Group
Detroit, MI

Senior Editorial Advisor

Gerard Hatheway, PharmD, PhD

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Belinda M. Danielson, RPh
Christopher M. DeSoto, PharmD
Angie S. Graham, PharmD
Cynthia Chan Huang, PharmD, MBA
Fred Plageman, PharmD

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Emily K.
Meuleman, RN, C, MS

About the Rx Consultant

The Rx Consultant is a monthly publication dedicated to providing health care professionals with the information they need to educate patients about drugs and manage drug therapy. The reader is responsible for confirming the information presented here and interpreting it in relation to each patient's specific situation before utilizing the information.

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