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Performance enhancing drugs in sport

Beta blockers

Snooker player

These drugs can have a range of effects (some of which have not been proven).  Known as beta blockers or beta antagonists they work by blocking the body’s receptors for adrenalin. They are used to treat a range of ailments associated with anxiety and tension, such as high blood pressure, angina, irregular heart beat, migraines, tremors, alcohol withdrawal and glaucoma.

Other drugs known as beta agonists have the opposite effect, a common beta agonist is the drug used in asthma inhalers (salbutamol) which acts to relax the airways, allowing the user to breathe more easily.

Beta blockers have been used by athletes in sports where a steady hand and eye are needed such as snooker, archery, darts and rifle shooting. In September 2006 Tiger Woods called for drug testing in golf as there were so many rumours of players taking beta blockers.

Some of the major side effects include; nausea, head aches, dizziness, muscle cramps or rapid heart flutters.

Next: Stimulants


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Question: Should asthmatics taking salbutamol be allowed to compete in international snooker competitions?

What about Bill Werbeniuk the Canadian snooker player who was taking the beta blocker Inderal to combat the effects of a drink problem when it was banned in 1988? Should he have been allowed to continue competing? Why?

In his Sunday Times Column in August 2006 AA Gill wrote Open quoteif they banned beta blockers for crown green bowls competitors they’d all be clutching their chests.Close quote 
Write out or audio record a report for a non-scientist to explain what he meant.