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Performance enhancing drugs in sport



Stimulants, also known as uppers or speed, boost or accelerate body functions such as heart rate and neural activity in the brain. They are used by athletes to reduce fatigue, remain alert and maintain their aggressiveness. Cocaine also stimulates pleasure sensors in the brain

Common stimulants include caffeine, amphetamines and cocaine.

Side-effects may include shaking, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, nervousness and possibly sudden death. The more often stimulants are used, the more the body becomes used to them and dampens down its own systems. This means more of the drug needs to be taken to achieve the same effect, leading to addiction.

Case study:Diego Maradona

BBC News article
Maradona, the talented Argentinian soccer player who was instrumental in knocking England out of the World Cup in 1986 was banned from international football for the first time in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine.  He returned to the game after 15 months but in 1994 he was ejected from the World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine, another stimulant. He retired at the age of 37 after testing positive for a third time.  Maradona has been battling with his cocaine addiction since the 1990s and narrowly survived a heart attack in 2004. Recently, following a stomach stapling operation to help him resolve his excessive weight gain, he has been in charge of an Argentinian junior football team and, in 2006, played for charity in the UK as part of Soccer Aid. He is immensely popular in his native country, Argentina, where he is also a TV host.

Next: Narcotics


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A 12oz can of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine per can compared to 34mg for a can of Coke. Should GCSE students be allowed to drink Red Bull during the exam weeks?

Imagine you are Maradona
, what would you say to a couple of young footballers who have enjoyed taking speed in a night club and are considering taking more amphetamines to help them compete?