Thursday 24 February 2022

A new direction for my Drugs in Sport blog

A while ago, I was thinking of a follow up to Run Swim Throw Cheat. One idea was to  write a similar book on supplements. Maybe I could look at different kinds of pills? I could explain the science behind how they might work and look at the evidence whether they did actually work. At the same I would highlight the key research papers if readers wanted to dig deeper into any topic. The idea never got beyond a web site url as my EPSRC Senior Media Fellowship ended and my more “normal” academic life intervened filled with its usual grant writing, research papers and university teaching and administration. However, the idea never quite went away. In fact I think now it would be interesting to apply the same strategy to explore the biochemistry, physiology and performance benefits of all the prohibited drugs and methods listed on the WADA prohibited list. 


I will write three blogs per compound attempting to answer the following questions :


1.     What is the biochemistry and/or physiology of the drug that might enhance performance?

2.     What is the best evidence that the drug does indeed enhance performance?

3.     Are there good examples of the drug being used by elite athletes?



So where to start? Well it so happens that one of the hottest current topics – the trimetazidine that Kamila Valieva tested positive for – is in one of the most interesting class of molecules for us biochemists, namely metabolic modulators. These sit in Section S4.4 of the WADA list, are prohibited at all times (in- and out-of-competition) and are “non specified” substances. A specified substance is one that is more likely to have been consumed or used by an Athlete for a purpose other than the enhancement of sport performance. This means that it can incur a lower punishment. In contrast a non specified substance – like all the metabolic modulators -  is likely to have been consumed by an Athlete for the enhancement of sport performance and there is no mitigating defence. 


Metabolic Modulators are listed by WADA (S4.4) as 


4.1 Activators of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), e.g. AICAR, SR9009;

and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta (PPARδ) agonists, e.g. 2-(2-methyl-4-((4-methyl-2-(4-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)thiazol-5-yl)methylthio)phenoxy) acetic acid (GW1516, GW501516)

4.2 Insulins and insulin-mimetics 

4.3 Meldonium

4.4 Trimetazidine


To start topically, I will write first about Trimetazidine. Two final points:


1.     I will try and write one blog a week, but don’t hold me to that!

2.     I will try and open the blogs for comments. Last time I did this I was inundated with people trying to plug the sale of peptides and had to shut down all comments. Let’s see if it works any better this time! 


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