/ Low Level Doping for Climbing?

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Paul Sagar 21 Nov 2019

Last night I could feel a cold coming on, but I also knew it was a training day. I'm doing Jonathan Siegrist's '6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers' programme between now and Christmas, and am trying to stick to it as closely as possible. So I decided to train, despite feeling ropey, and helped myself out by taking a Max Cold and Flu tablet that I found in the random box of random medicines in my kitchen. Active ingredients: paracetamol, caffeine, phenylephrine.

That day's training was limit bouldering, so that's what I got stuck into after a standard warm-up. And I not only felt decongested and not sneezey has I had pre-pill, but really good. Like, REALLY good. Airways super open, mentally focused, super strong. I ended up sending two hard V5s I'd been working on for a while quite easily, and almost finished a V6 - so definitely the upper end of my bouldering capacity. (I'm much more into route climbing, and currently forcing myself to work boulder problems over sessions rather than getting bored after 4 failed tries and moving on.)

Now, I'm wary of reading too much into this. I'd had a good night's sleep; I've been doing a fair bit of hang-boarding the last two weeks; the day before I'd done an easy 30 minute run and no climbing. All of this could contribute to making me just stronger on the day regardless of the medicine. But what I noticed is that I *felt* so much more stronger than normal, and not just in my fingers.

This could all be in my head, of course - but any other anecdotal evidence? The only study I've been able to find indicates that there is no significant gain from phenylephrine use in terms of cardiovascular exercise. But then, climbing is more complex than CV exercise:

https://sportsmedicine-open.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40798-018-0159-7

If it turns out that dropping a Cold and Flu tab boosts performance, I for one will be packing a bunch of them to Kalymnos next April. Is it cheating? Well, if it's not banned by WADA (and it currently ain't) then I'm all in.

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Jon Stewart 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

The link concerns pseudoephedrine, not phenylephrine, different drugs (both entirely useless as decongestants IME).

I've used the slightly (/radically) stronger version, ephedrine, to go to the wall when I've got a cold (this drug is totally banned by WADA of course), and it works like f*cking magic. Definitely climbed better than normal, presumably due to both the bronchodilating and stimulant effects. Perhaps you could be sensitive to this class of drugs and the weak version has a similar effect on you as the proper version has on me?

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Robert Durran 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I've used the slightly (/radically) stronger version, ephedrine, to go to the wall when I've got a cold (this drug is totally banned by WADA of course), and it works like f*cking magic. 

Sounds awesome. Is it available over the counter?

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JLS 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

>"Is it available over the counter?"

Yeah, eveyone at Ratho, expect you, is on it; hence the new grading scale.

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Robert Durran 21 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

> >"Is it available over the counter?"

> Yeah, eveyone at Ratho, expect you, is on it; hence the new grading scale.

That explains why I am so weak then. I definitely need some. Where do you get yours?

Post edited at 13:12
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Jon Greengrass 21 Nov 2019
Jon Stewart 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Sounds awesome. Is it available over the counter?

No. Grey market online.

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Paul Sagar 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Oops yes wrong link. There is another study on the one that you can’t make crystal meth from, which is what I meant to link to (am on my phone in a rush so you’ll have to trust me...)

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wbo2 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart: I thought quite a few non prescription cold meds contained pseudoephedrine?  They certainly did in the past, and not just Advil

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JLS 21 Nov 2019
In reply to wbo2:

pseudoephedrine & ephedrine aren't same. Ephedrine being more potent. Or so I've just learned.

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steveriley 21 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

One is more pretentious than the other but may offer more advantages in a corner.

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Robert Durran 21 Nov 2019
In reply to steveriley:

> One is more pretentious than the other but may offer more advantages in a corner.

Is their a version that  might be advantageous on overhangs?

Post edited at 15:18
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Jon Stewart 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Is their a version that is might be advantageous on overhangs?

Dunno. Works well on hangovers though.

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ChrisBrooke 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I’ve experimented with downing a caffeine shot before my lunchtime bouldering on the grit. I don’t drink tea, coffee or Coke, so it definitely has a decent effect on me. n=1 caveats aside, I do think I perform better on the days I remember to do that. 

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Sprucedgoose 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I have no idea why but I've noticed an improvement in climbing performance in the days before I become "properly" symptomatic with a cold. This is possibly because I'm at the end of a training period that puts me at risk of illness (but the training improves performance nonetheless) but after speaking to others climbers with similar experiences (at different training loads / points) - we wondered if the body is kind of "ramping up" in some way to deal with something (the cold) before you feel crap . . and this ramp up translating into increased climbing performance. . . . so it may not be the drugs but your own bodies reaction. who knows? I do know that i wouldn't fancy exposing myself to cold virus;s to do the trial either!

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Paul Sagar 21 Nov 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I drink industrial volumes of coffee on a daily basis, so I don't think it's the caffeine component of the meds that can be responsible as that would barely register on my internal scale!

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Misha 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Could just be that your training programme is paying off. Plus having a decent amount of sleep and rest.

You can take whichever pills you like if you aren’t a comp climber. Personally I think if I were to make any gains by chemical means I would just be cheating myself. 

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Presley Whippet 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Misha:

> You can take whichever pills you like if you aren’t a comp climber. Personally I think if I were to make any gains by chemical means I would just be cheating myself. 

Interesting, having (in the dim and distant past) taken a variety of "performance enhancers" to improve my nights out, I find it difficult to judge those outside of competition taking performance enhancers as cheats.

Was I cheating back in 1988? I certainly enjoyed some good parties. 

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Jon Stewart 21 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Was I cheating back in 1988? I certainly enjoyed some good parties. 

If you viewed how much fun you had as a measurable goal, to be achieved by use of your mental and physical resources, you might feel that you were. If you just wanted to have as much fun as possible, you were probably going about it the optimal way, and should consider yourself a high achiever (NPI).

Post edited at 22:20
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marsbar 22 Nov 2019
In reply to wbo2:

Sinutab.  

I find it works amazingly  well for sinus pain.  Cant really comment otherwise. 

It's a stimulant so be careful and don't mix with other stimulants.  Also it contains paracetamol so don't increase the dose. 

Post edited at 07:48
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snoop6060 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Misha:

If you are gonna cheat anyone it may as well be yourself . It's like good honest cheating then.

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jack89 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I find it's amazing what a whole day's rest will do mid training block: it's so clear when doing max weighted hangs after a whole day off vs. after some reasonably light climbing for an hour the day before. Good protein intake the days before, as well?

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McHeath 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Interesting list ... so glucocorticoids (whatever they are) are OK in-competition if administered rectally, but not at your local wall! 

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Jon Greengrass 22 Nov 2019
In reply to McHeath:

Wrong Glucocorticoids are prohibited in-competion when administered orally, intravenously,intramuscularly and rectally. 

see section S9

https://www.wada-ama.org/sites/default/files/wada_2019_english_prohibited_list.pdf

Glucocorticoids include commonly prescribed and over the counter drugs such as

Hydrocortisone - Eczema skin creams

Betamethasone -Asthma inhalers

Obviously this class of medicines are extremely important and need to be used, e.g. creams to help heal saddle sores, but there is still the possibility that some athletes and their doctors may be trying to take advantage of administering these drugs while training for marginal gains? 

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McHeath 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Thanks for clearing that up for me!

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Misha 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

I don’t judge other people if they aren’t comp climbers. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t use performance enhancing drugs myself. Climbing isn’t competitive as far as I’m concerned so I’d only be cheating myself. Say I could do an E6 or an 8a as a result. Great but I wouldn’t feel like I’ve done it by fair means and so it wouldn’t feel like an accomplishment. Obviously other people might be more relaxed about it. 

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Southvillain 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Interesting, having (in the dim and distant past) taken a variety of "performance enhancers" to improve my nights out, I find it difficult to judge those outside of competition taking performance enhancers as cheats.

> Was I cheating back in 1988? I certainly enjoyed some good parties. 

LOL! I'm sure some of the speedier E's I had would've improved my performance, at the risk of my not being able to let go of the rock ("but it feels sooooo nice").

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Jon Greengrass 22 Nov 2019
In reply to McHeath:

Your rectum is welcome.

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Paul Sagar 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

But not during competition time!

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cb294 22 Nov 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

Yeah, who would try and get a TUE for triamcinolone....

CB

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Paul Sagar 25 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Sorry to say that I tried the same trick again yesterday, lead climbing, and climbed like shit. So alas the wonder doping seems to have been a mirage. Must have actually just been stronger by myself last week. What a shame.

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steveriley 25 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

Shame. I had one of my best bouldering sessions ever after fish and chips once. That too proved to be a one off, despite the number of chips I've been eating since.

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David Hillebrandt 25 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

For UIAA paper on drug use and misuse in the mountains see:

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ham.2016.0080

It does mention cragging and bouldering.

Dave H

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marsbar 25 Nov 2019
In reply to steveriley:

Have you tried a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake?  

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Paul Sagar 25 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

Mixed results with tea and cake. Sometimes leads to hard sends, sometimes to feeling like a nice snooze. It’s such a minefield. 

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McHeath 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Sagar:

I have a very hilly 10km cross country trail which I used to run once a month at speed, it was my benchmark for years. I ran my record time the day after a long lost friend and I had emptied three bottles of wine and had about two hours sleep. I was just feeling amazingly happy and good. I didn't even consider trying to repeat the recipe; still have no idea how that worked!

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steveriley 26 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

More research needed. Important not to rush these things.

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cb294 26 Nov 2019
In reply to McHeath:

Too drunk over to read the stopwatch correctly?

CB

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McHeath 27 Nov 2019
In reply to cb294:

Or just ran a different trail and didn't notice

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Paul Sagar 28 Nov 2019

New results: last night I again felt super strong and climbed really well. No cold and flu tablets this time. Unfortunately I had the same type of flapjack as on Monday as pre-fuel, so that can’t be the decisive variable. 

the only thing so far consistently correlated with improved performance is climbing on a Wednesday. From now on all projects will be attempted only on Wednesdays. 8a+ here i come.

Post edited at 10:14
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