Faher's little helper? Viagra may offer athetic edge by tFOXSports.com
[url="http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/8228928/Father's-little-helper?-Viagra-may-offer-athetic-edge"]http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/8228 ... hetic-edge[/url]
Updated: June 10, 2008, 1:11 PM EST RSS blog email print You'll never look at the phrase "performance-enhancing drugs" in quite the same way again.
The Daily News in New York reported Tuesday that Viagra has become a popular pick-me-up for athletes looking for an edge on the field and perhaps some frisky behavior off of it.
Citing a source familiar with the New York Yankees clubhouse, the paper said Roger Clemens stashed the diamond-shaped pills in a vitamin bottle in his locker, perhaps keeping the drug undercover to avoid the inevitable wisecracks.
But the veteran pitcher wasn't alone. He's among the numerous athletes who have turned Vitamin V and its over-the-counter substitutes into one of the hottest drugs in locker rooms. The drug is so widely used now that it has drawn the attention of anti-doping officials.
"All my athletes took it," BALCO founder Victor Conte said of an over-the-counter supplement he claimed mimicked Viagra. "It's bigger than creatine. It's the biggest product in nutritional supplements."
Among the off-label uses for Viagra, which first went on the market in 1998:
Building endurance, especially for athletes who compete at high altitudes, by delivering oxygen, nutrients and performance-enhancing drugs to muscles more efficiently.
Offsetting impotence, which can be a side-effect of testosterone injections.
Viagra, officially intended to treat erectile dysfunction, is not banned by Major League Baseball or other sports, and the paper said Clemens would have violated no drug-testing rules by using it.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is funding a study to see if Viagra can be used to cheat on the field. Researchers at three U.S. universities are trying to determine if Viagra, officially known as sildenafil citrate, aids training and improves performance.
Last month at the Giro d'Italia, Italy's biggest cycling event, Andrea Moletta was suspended after police searched his father's car and found 82 Viagra pills and a syringe.
In March, NFL draft prospect Heath Benedict of Florida was found dead at his home. A medical examiner's report said bottles labeled "L-Dex" and "L-Via" — interpreted to be anabolic steroids and liquid Viagra — were found near his body.
If researchers conclude that Viagra enhances athletic performance, the World Anti-Doping Agency could add the prescription medication to the list of prohibited substances in Olympic sports.
Don Catlin, founder of Anti-Doping Research in Southern California, has been raising questions about Viagra's use in sports for years.
"It's a complicated drug," he said. "If you go through the basic pharmacology and stretch your imagination, you could end up saying, 'Yeah, maybe it could be useful for athletes who are competing in endurance sports at high altitude.'"
Catlin said he e-mailed then-WADA chairman Dick Pound several years ago to point out that Viagra might be a doping agent, but the message bounced back because the spam filter on Pound's computer would not let the e-mail through.
Clemens' lawyer Rusty Hardin did not return a call for comment.