In order to train for longer or even when injured athletes may takes substances such as narcotics which help to numb any pain that they are experiencing. Examples of banned narcotics include morphine, heroin, the heroin substitute methadone and the pain killer codeine. They can be dangerous because the athlete may compound an injury by continue to train and these substances – narcotic means sleep inducing - can impair the mental functioning of the athlete. They are also potentially addictive.
Narcotics have been associated with supporting athletes though the pain of long distance cycling. Morphine derivatives were part of the so-called Belgian mix or cocktail known as ‘pot Belge’ which also includes stimulants. In 1998 an entire French cycling team was suspended from the Tour de France when their physiotherapist, Willy Voet, was found with a car boot full of drugs including prescription drugs and narcotics. In 2004 Belgian cyclist Christophe Brandt was excluded from the Tour de France after testing positive for methadone, a drug more usually used to wean addicts off heroin. Most recently, in the “Cahors Affair” a drugs scandal in summer 2006 involving 23 cyclists, their team crew and entourage, a French cycling coach was jailed for continuing to supply the infamous ‘pot belge’.
Why is a mixture of narcotics and stimulants so valuable to long distance cyclists?
Sportsmen and women found taking drugs often say that they were following their trainers’ instructions. Is this a good defence? Explain why or why not?
On your High Horse?
In 2002, 20 British racehorses tested positive for morphine with contaminated feed blamed for the failed dope tests. The group included Be My Royal, the winner of that year's Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury.