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Essentials of Toxicology in Sport

Essentials of Toxicology in Sport

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lisa Dwane. Originally submitted for Pharmacology at University College Dublin, with lecturer Carmel Hensey in the category of Medical Sciences
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Lisa Dwane. Originally submitted for Pharmacology at University College Dublin, with lecturer Carmel Hensey in the category of Medical Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Essentials of Toxicology inSport 
Olympic Council of Ireland
This project was completed as part of a Toxicology module and widely explores and principles of toxicology and its relation to sport. The project is themed in this way to celebrate the London 2012Olympic Games which are taking place this summer. It is designed in such a manner to resemble ainformation booklet, prepared by the Irish Olympic Council
for the Irish athletes and theircoaching teams taking part in the Olympic Games this year.The use of certain drugs in sport are prohibited, as outlined by the World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA). In this project, the many categories of prohibited drugs are outlined, each supported withan example and the reason as to why an athlete would choose to use such a drug to enhance theirperformance.Toxicology, which is the study of adverse effects on a living organism, is an essential topic in thestudy of Pharmacology and it's related subjects. Without toxicology, scientists would not be able to
predict and report the adverse effects of drugs, hence resulting in harmful and possibly fatal sideeffects to the user. A toxicology report for every drug must be presented to the FDA, and fromthere on it is decided whether or not a drug is safe enough to be approved. This project exploresthe principles of toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics, outlining exactly what happens when anindividual administers a drug. This includes absorption into the bloodstream, distribution aroundthe body, metabolism in the liver and finally, the elimination of the drug. By examining thetoxicokinetics of each individual drug, it can be predicted whether or not a toxic response willoccur. It is important that athletes are educated on such a subject so they are familiar with therisks involved in abusing a drug for the purpose of performance enhancement, not to mention thepossible disqualification from competition.Despite the known adverse effects of drugs which are commonly abused in sport, their use byathletes is inevitable. Every four years when the Olympic Games take place, athletes aredisqualified and stripped from their title due to their illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs.This 'information booklet' aims to educate Olympic qualifiers and their coaching teams on theessentials of toxicology and the dangers of drug abuse in sport, in the effort to minimise thenumber of athletes abusing drugs in this years' Olympic Games. This project explores the effects adrug can have on the body and how these effects come about, as well as drug detection methodsused before and during the Olympic Games. The associated health consequences which may resultfrom their use are also explored, using common examples. The performance enhancing drugswhich will be used as examples in this project are
Continuous Erythropoietin Stimulation Agent(CERA)
, a drug which caused a high level of controversy in the 2008 Olympic Games, and
a well-known anabolic steroid.
Overview of Toxicology
Toxicology, which can be defined as
the study of the adverseeffects of chemicals on a living organism
, is necessary to provethe safety or danger of drugs. Theoretically, every knownchemical has the ability to produce a poisonous effect if presentin a sufficient amount. There are many ways in which a chemicalcan be exposed to, absorbed and metabolized in the body andwhether a toxic response occurs or not is dependent on thesefactors. Other factors include the physical and chemicalproperties of the agent, as well as how often and for how longthe subject is exposed to this agent.
Figure 1 (right): A Toxic Drug
Once the chemical is broken down in the body, a toxicmanifestation can begin if the chemical's metabolites are at a high enough concentration andremain at the site of damage for a sufficient amount of time. In therapeutics, most drugs producea broad spectrum of effects, only one or two of which are desired. All of these other unwantedeffects can be classified as
side effects
. (Klaassen, 2003)
Principles of Toxicology
There are several ways in which an individual can come into contact with a toxic substance. Once achemical has entered the blood, it may distribute throughout the body and have an overallsystemic effect. Most chemicals will only elicit their toxic effects on one or two organs of the body,such as the kidney, liver, lung, skin or central nervous system. The body’s natural enzymes willattempt to biotransform the chemical in the natural effort to eliminate the chemical. Eachindividual may metabolize a chemical at a different rate, as the structures of metabolizing enzymesare known to differ among individuals. Before a chemical reaches the final step of excretion, it mayhave already caused a profound toxic effect.Toxicodynamics may be defined as the determination of the sequence of events which occur at acellular and molecular level that result in a toxic response to an environmental agent. It isimportant to know how and what a toxicant is doing in the system to cause such a profound effect,to allow one to manage whether it is safe or not to administer a drug. Almost every toxicant has avariation in the way they are delivered to their target organ, as well as a variety of differentreactions that may take place with endogenous molecules. (Klaassen, 2003;www.aguis.com)
Figure 2: Toxicokinetics and Toxicodynamics
Toxicology and its Relation toSport 
The use of drugs to enhance sportingperformance is strictly prohibited, but isevidently prevalent. The detection of the useof prohibited drugs is important in sport, toprotect the health of the individual and toensure that every athlete has an equal chance

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