Study shows 'brain doping' is common in amateur sport
Researchers in Germany found that 15% of recreational triathletes admitted to brain doping, using prescription medicines that increase attention. Some 13% of competitors reported using physical enhancers like steroids or human growth hormone. Brain doping is more popular say the scientists, because many of the substances aren't banned.
The research has been published in the journal Plos One.
Previous studies have shown that, among amateur competitors, the use of performance-enhancing substances is widespread. This new work used the responses of almost 3,000 triathletes taking part in events in Germany, to analyse the broader picture of physical and cognitive doping.
Researchers believe that many so-called "smart drugs" are being widely used to enhance mental functions outside the patients groups they have been designed to help.
They are also concerned that competitors in a variety of sports may be using these substances to gain an edge. In the study, participants were asked whether they had used physical or brain-enhancing substances in the past 12 months. Overall, 13% said they had taken drugs like EPO, steroids, or growth hormones.
When it came to brain enhancement, 15.1% said they had used products including amphetamines, or medicines like modafinil or methylphenidate. Significantly more men than women admitted to both types of doping.