Illegal drugs have been used in sports for many years, the main reason being to enhance performance. Others also use drugs to relieve the stress that comes with being an athlete and the physical injuries that accompany it.

Athletes across all team sports including the major sports of basketball, baseball, football, and soccer, have been suspended and even banned from playing for having illegal drugs in their system. These drugs take away the ethics and fair play of a sport. Nonetheless, every day we here of more athletes using drugs to become better at their sport.

Doping In Sports

Doping” is the use of illegal substances to enhance performance in sports. It is a common practice and one that some say should even be legalized. Some believe if doping is legalized it will mean less health problems and deaths.

Doping can have serious consequences not only for the player but for the entire team. Let’s take a look at the top doping substances in sports.


Tetrahydrogestrinone, also known as “The Clear” because it can go undetected. This drug has no medical uses, it was designed specifically for athletes wanting to cheat the system. The creator Patrick Arnold made it in a way that the drug could pass normal steroid tests.

Desirable Athlete Effects of Tetrahydrogestrinone

  • Increased muscle mass
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Speedy muscle and injury recovery

Side Effects of Tetrahydrogestrinone

  • Acne
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Hair Loss in Men
  • Facial Hair Growth In Women
  • Irritable Mood


Ephedrine comes from a herb called Ephedra Equisetina. This drug is illegal in weight loss products but can be found in over the counter asthma and nasal decongestion applications. The NBA, NFL, and MLB are amongst the sports that have banned this drug from being used by their athletes.

Steve Belcher, a baseball player took weight loss pills that contained ephedrine in 2003 before a workout and died. This helped lead the way for the FDA to ban ephedrine in weight loss supplements. However, many athletes are still using ephedrine for its increased performance.

Desirable Athlete Effects of Ephedrine

  • Increases energy
  • Increases alertness
  • Provides fast weight loss by speeding up the metabolism

The FDA has recognized over 800 side effects of ephedrine, but here are the most common.

  • High blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Heart Attack


Cocaine is a stimulant abused by millions, although it is usually not thought of as a performance enhancing drug, athletes use it for the boost of self-confidence and energy it provides.

Desirable Athlete Effects of Cocaine

  • Increased self-confidence while playing
  • Increased energy

Side Effects of Cocaine

  • Heart attack
  • Confusion and paranoia
  • Irregular heartbeat


Marijuana is a popular but controversial drug. Probably one of the most used drugs in the world and in sports. In 2014 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had said he was not opposed to his players using medical marijuana to help with injuries.

Although marijuana is legal in some states, it is not in many and athletes are illegally using it.

Desirable Athlete Effects of Marijuana

  • Managing Pain
  • Reducing anxiety before a big game
  • Reducing negative experiences

It’s hard to talk about side effects of marijuana as there are many controversial studies. Marijuana is on the WADA prohibited list. WADA stands for World Anti-Doping Agency, they have a list which state all prohibited substances in sports.

There are many other illegal drugs used in team sports; if you want to see them check out the WADA prohibited list available online.