Elite runners maintain fantastic levels of fitness, with low body fat percentages and high maximal aerobic capacity (also known as VO2 max). Most athletes use good nutrition and training practices to meet their fitness goals, but a few turn to artificial strategies to boost their performance. Some combine anabolic steroids and human growth hormone injections to lose body fat, build muscle, and enhance their athletic prowess. VO2 max can be enhanced artificially as well. Strategies to boost red blood cell count, such as transfusing extra blood or taking erythropoietin to bump up the body’s natural red blood cell-producing systems, increase the amount of oxygen an athlete can carry in their blood. Read more about athletes’ attempts to get a pharmacological leg up on the competition, and the strategies scientists use to smoke them out, in “Anti-Doping Research Gets Creative.”

Video by Tom Warrender of Classroom Medics...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?