According to most athletes, performance-enhancing drugs have no place in the world of professional sports. However, it can sometimes be difficult to gauge which drugs can be used reasonably and which are responsible for boosting performance. Tramadol, a strong painkiller used by many athletes, is the latest to be called into question, both for its performance enhancement as well as it’s addictive qualities.
According to WebMD, tramadol works similarly to an opioid in that it alters brain chemistry to reduce the body’s response to pain. It’s used to treat acute bouts of pain, with a maximum recommended dosage of 400 milligrams per day. Side effects include dizziness, headache, and gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and constipation. More serious side effects also include severe abdominal pain, seizures, changes in mood, loss of appetite and problems urinating.
While tramadol is not considered a banned substance by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, it’s usage is constantly being reviewed, particularly within the world of professional cycling. The major risk is the drug’s addictive nature, which involves sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means it has a high propensity for abuse and addiction.
What’s more is that the drug plays a major role in cycling, with some claiming it’s routinely provided along with water during races. This is because it helps cyclists overcome the often-painful physical effects that accompany races, as well as the severe after-effects. Because of these issues, many are requesting that tramadol is added to the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List, to ensure fairness as well as to prevent damaging health effects.