The Psychological Concequenses of Doping

Apr 20, 2012
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This has been on my mind for a long time. Also from a personal point of view, not just the doping. When you sport; cycle, soccer, running etc etc your body 'makes' endorfine, adrenaline etc etc. Endorfine will make you feel good, you get a natural high. Runners often call it the runners high. Adrenaline can get you in 'the rush'.

I was a reasonable high athlete - untill injuries in knee, ankle and back fukked that up - and I experienced the reverse side of the endorfine high; a depression. Other things contributed to that as well but since I had to give up my sport - untill the moment I accepted the injuries were too bad and I would be able to enjoy my sports at a lower level, formerly unacceptable - I did not get my dose of endorfine any more. Same goes of course for adrenaline and all the other hormonal things affected by sports.

When I read Hamilton's book the Secret Race and got to the passage on his first EPO use it got me thinking:
The Secret Race said:
How does it feel to use EPO? It feels amazing, especially because you feel nothing. You are not exhausted. You feel good, normal, strong. You have more colour in you face, less cranky, nicer to the people surrounding you. Those little drips of fluid work like radiosignals, they give your kidneys the message to prodruce more RBC's, soon there will be millions more in your veins who will transport oxigen to your muscles. Your body is still the same, except for having better fuel. You can ride harder and longer.
Translated from the Dutch version, page 64.

There have been numerous cases in the past of addicted cyclists, Johan van de Velde comes to mind as a Dutchman - amphetamines - who got into serious troubles with the law subsequently, others fell into a very serious depression with death as a result, we all know who those were.

What does doping do with athletes on the psychological side of it? And, maybe even better, what happens to in this case cyclists who stop, or are forced to stop because of a doping positive? Do they believe the myth they have build up through doping? Do they believe they have become superhumans? How deep is the flipside when they realize - if they ever do - it was not real?

On the other hand, have the enablers - doctors, directeurs sportifs, fans etc etc - ever stood still at those questions? Are they also responsible for the deaths, the depressions of riders - antidepressiva have been very popular in the pelotoon - or not? Is doping addictive and shouldnt doping be getting the same responce as drugs in legal terms?
 
Apr 3, 2011
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Should we send a link to this thread to The Mighty Uniballer? Maybe he'll sue Amgen and Dr. Lamborghini for making him arrogant sociopathic a$$hole.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Fearless Greg Lemond said:
.... When you sport; cycle, soccer, running etc etc your body 'makes' endorfine, adrenaline etc etc. Endorfine will make you feel good, you get a natural high. Runners often call it the runners high. Adrenaline can get you in 'the rush'....
Very true, no one wants to admit it but many athletes from almost every sport has some hook to adrenaline as its what drives them to do it again. We've all seen those high end athletes who end up totally out of it after they retire, most likely due to the lack of the adrenaline rush you mention, they go for the rec. drugs or are just total a-holes to the rest of society and end up in trouble or put themselves in dangerous situations because of it.

I've seen odd ball situations not only in sports but in some peoples careers who fall under the same spell, be it the "rush" of what ever makes them tic in doing their work. Some professions are known to use drugs to keep going and get work done, and I'm talking white collar professions and high end professions.

Some people can even work with their addictions to keep that high/rush, which baffles many people then there are the others who quickly rise and then crash and burn as fast as they got to their goals because they could not handle or control their "peds/drugs".
 
Aug 21, 2012
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Jiminez, Pantani, Vandenbroucke, Gaumont, and so on.

It's worth noting that PED abuse is just a late night out away from standard drug abuse. The overlap is quite high.
 
Meh.

It's a chicken-egg problem.

Lots of dopers transitioned to other lives with great success. Former governor of California to name an obvious one. If only Armstrong could have stayed away like an Indurain.
 
DirtyWorks said:
It's a chicken-egg problem.

Lots of dopers transitioned to other lives with great success. Former governor of California to name an obvious one.
Those PEDS had the side effect of compelling his hands to touch mammary glands in great abundance.
 
ped effects

this section from A Dog in a Hat - Joe Parkin (page 101) reminded me of Froome and his antics. After being handed a vial by the soigneur..the effects don't take long to kick in..

Unfortunately each of my new strengths was outweighed by the fact that I was also becoming more stupid by the second.
:)
 
Jul 11, 2013
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Cycling's longstanding, predictable and troubling relationship with depression

Stumbled across this article from january..

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/100-tours-100-tales/2014/jan/23/cycling-relationship-depression-doping

There is strong evidence that certain forms of doping – particularly amphetamines, cannabinoids, beta blockers and steroids – can lead to depression. But the equation between doping and depression is not that simple. When German Sport Aid surveyed a number of elite German athletes they found that 88% of them felt that the pressure they were under to succeed – or to raise their profiles or to profit from their success – was a motivating factor in decisions to dope. Over half spoke feeling "existential angst".

Regardless of whether we cast a cynical eye over such results, high stress levels are often a precursor to depression, especially when other factors – genetics or chemical imbalance – are already present. Add in grief or loss, shame and guilt – the death of a parent, a lost career or one spent breaking the rules, or being caught – and the mixture is a combustible one. Jesús Manzano, the cyclist turned whistleblower, brutally has outlined the mechanics of stress, doping and depression:

The drugs lead you to other addictions. The anti-depressants almost automatically accompany other doping treatments. I took up to eight pills of prozac a day when I was racing... Prozac cuts the appetite, keeps you in another world, a world where you're not afraid of what you're doing. You're no longer afraid to inject yourself with all the crap. It takes you to a world where you don't ask any more questions, especially you don't ask your doctor questions either or your sporting director. Then there are periods where you must stop doping you feel like superman. Then one day all of the sudden it stops and you become dramatically depressed. Look at Pantani, Vandenbroucke and all the others we don't even talk about. They are numerous other cyclists and former cyclists that are addicted to cocaine, heroin and other medications. It's not just in the world of cycling.

.............
And still the stigma remains; over a hundred years after Pottier hanged himself from his bike hook, what has changed? How many teams employ a psychiatrist? Where is the support to counsel riders who dope and are caught doping, whatever their motivation? Where is the desire to look at a rider's health holistically? Whatever your opinion of Riis and his motivation for speaking up about his depression, he remains one of a handful who have spoken out and sought help.
A lot more in the article...
Maybe posted before, but nevertheless suitable to this thread...
 
Good thread to bump. 2014 brought lot more academic interest in the psychology of high performance. Noakes/central governor made physiologists more interested in the brain, and more and more studies have popped up over the last few years. Things like:

shade of eye glasses effecting performance (blue may be be better...)
iron supplements and mood (IV drips put athletes in better moods...)
just thinking about lifting weights can improve your performance (seriously...)
the impact of mood/susceptibility to depression on adaptation to altitude (your body won't adapt as well if you're prone to mood swings, bad moods, depression)
and more.

These individual studies are nice little trivia, but as the body of work grows, it is painting a good picture of the role of the brain, independent of the fitness, in performance.

To tie this into the thread, one frustration about research is that they so often ignore doping; it really screws up the science. Studies about recreational athletes are not relevant, while studies with elite athletes may be skewed by doped or clean participants. I hope that the more broad awareness, and the new interests of scientists will lead to more academic discussion of how everything fits together.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Cycle Chic said:
Good thread. I know of a pro rider who has serious sleeping difficulties due to peds. Unable to calm his mind.
i know of a rider who told Ashenden that clen worked but he could not sleep for two days so he did not use it again.
 
Aug 4, 2011
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Drugs can make you quicker ,stronger feel like a king, who would want to stop taking them? It's a big head F%%k alright and must be very hard to live without those sensations once you have tasted them.
 
Jul 11, 2013
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Just reread the article from The Guardian.

Thought i would post another excerpt:

The most commonly recognised factors that increase vulnerability to depression have been identified as "gender, genetics, family factors, adverse childhood experiences, personality factors and social circumstances". In their stress-vulnerability model, the academics Keith Nuechterlein and Michael Dawson identify the interaction of these vulnerability factors with social or physical triggers as the precursors to a depressive episode.

It hardly seems surprising that professional cyclists, despite their wealth and fame, would be vulnerable to depression: the endless scrutiny, the life lived on a knife edge between optimum fitness and over-training, the constant flirtation with loss. Imagine having dedicated your life from an early age to the pursuit of excellence with all its attendant pressures while never developing the ordinary coping mechanisms that "real life" are so good at teaching the rest of us.

Imagine being 22-year-old Jonathan Breyne, who tested positive for clenbuterol after a failed test in China, unable to eat because you have no appetite, making yourself ill as your world falls apart around your ears, the only world you've ever known, driven to attempt suicide because of comments on internet forums.

Or Mauro Santambrogio, who turned professional aged 20, working in a night bakery, alone with your darkest thoughts, tweeting your suicide note. Imagine having hundreds and thousands of words, of scathing comments forensically dissecting your worst decisions, your biggest mistakes.

But where you and I might talk to friends and family or seek professional help, cyclists exist in a bubble where their physical condition and ability to perform is paramount. Subjected to high levels of physical stress, there seems to be little or no framework to support riders to deal with the mental consequences of that stress.
......

Perhaps Obree put it best: "It's not that sport makes people depressed. A lot of people who suffer from depression have a tendency to have obsessive behaviour – that's why more of them exist in the top end of sport. The sport is actually a self-medicating process of survival."
 
Any substance that messes with the endocrine system is going to disturb the natural function of the brain, and that includes mood regulation.

We see riders who were probably more susceptible to post-doping depression, but you have extremes with everything in life. For every Pantani and Vandenbrouke, you have guys like Indurain and Jalabert who doped and seem to have lead very productive post-cycling lives.
 
Jul 11, 2013
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And here we are mostly talking of the dopers...
Think about the psychological consequenses for other athletes, family members, friends etc who are caught in the crossfire...

It's quite a vicious circle...

I think there's a common understanding that blaming one part (dopers for example) is to simple...

So who the hell do we blame...?

I don't feel any hatred towards dopers.. I just prefer them to act sensibly/morally in other aspects of their cycling-lives (apart from the act of doping) so that i can still enjoy the racing...

But can you build your life on a doping lie and still be a moral person?

I dunno.. But there's been some dopers with issues revelated that i can sympathise with in the way that i think to understand the decicions and act as a flawed human being myself...
 
Sep 8, 2009
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living a pro life is above all, depressing. always far from family. always training, eating, sleeping. i get depressed only when i think about it
you basically do all the sacrifices and you will most likely still be remembered as a cheat if you fail some test. that must be brutal
i think tonkov said it the best comparing pro cyclists to traction horses who never look left or right. they just look in front of them and suffer big time

while depression can happen to anyone, i reckon i would find it rather surprising to find a single pro cyclist who never experienced it.
pro cyclist is a hard as hell job. doping or no doping
 
Wealth

jens_attacks said:
living a pro life is above all, depressing. always far from family. always training, eating, sleeping. i get depressed only when i think about it
you basically do all the sacrifices and you will most likely still be remembered as a cheat if you fail some test. that must be brutal
i think tonkov said it the best comparing pro cyclists to traction horses who never look left or right. they just look in front of them and suffer big time

while depression can happen to anyone, i reckon i would find it rather surprising to find a single pro cyclist who never experienced it.
pro cyclist is a hard as hell job. doping or no doping
disagree - maybe not decades ago but today they are paid huge salaries - to do sport !

always training , sleeping, eating ?? commute into London !
 

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