Those little blue pills may soon be banned

When the world was young, life was simple. If someone bright found that a sharpened stick could be used during a hunt to kill animals for food, that's what it was used for. No-one would dream that, in the future, a smaller version would be used as a pen for writing. So it was that the little blue pill started off its life during clinical trials for the treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) - problems in the arteries in the chest. When the accident of excitement among the male participants was noted, a new train of thought left the station. Who would have thought that a mere ten years later, the Italian mafia would be feeding the same medication to racehorses to fix the races. Life has become so much more complicated as time has passed.

So where are we with this apparently magic substance that cures human ills and makes money for the Mob? Well, no matter which sport you now look at, everyone is talking about whether it is cheating to use the little blue pill. And we're not just talking about the Sex Olympics where men naturally shine and win gold medals from their girl friends and wives. But serious athletes in all major sports have noticed the pills turning up in locker rooms. It has become a hot topic among those who regulate these sports. Should an "everyday" drug used by many men become a banned substance? The answer comes down to its supposed effect. What advantage do athletes believe they are obtaining by using this drug? We have to go back to 2004 when a team of German researchers tested mountaineers on their endurance at altitude. The results were surprising, showing there was a general improvement in everyone's ability to absorb more oxygen from "thin" air and transport that oxygen more efficiently to the muscles. Moving on to 2006, a team from Stanford University demonstrated that cyclists working at altitudes in excess of 3,000 metres were on average 15% faster than the placebo group. As one might expect, there was a rapid move by mountaineers, skiers, bobsleigh, luge and other alpine sportsmen to experiment. The cycling profession was soon hard on their heels.

The current situation is that the Cycle Union of France is to ban the use of viagra. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has commissioned two research projects. If these results confirm the earlier studies, the likelihood is that viagra will be added to the list of banned substances almost immediately and that the new list will be enforced in time for the Winter Olympics to be held in Vancouver. However, other professional athletes can sleep soundly in their beds (assuming the wives and girlfriends are not in a demanding mood). There are no plans to extend the ban to baseball, basketball or football. Italian stallions can also look forward to night mares, so the world remains a happy place.

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