Does Viagra Improve Performance?…Athletic Performance

The NY Daily News alleges more drug use by Roger Clemens. This time, the culprit is Viagra.

Roger Clemens, whose claims he never took steroids are under federal investigation, has apparently discovered the benefits of another performance-enhancing drug sweeping the sports world – Viagra.

Clemens stashed the clearly marked, diamond-shaped pills in a GNC vitamin bottle in his locker at Yankee Stadium, according to a source familiar with the clubhouse, perhaps keeping the drug undercover to avoid the inevitable wisecracks about all the girlfriends he needed to please.

According to the Daily News, Viagra (sildenafil nitrate) is widely used by athletes to improve performance.

The drug is so widely used for off-label purposes that it has drawn the attention of anti-doping officials and law-enforcement agencies in the United States and beyond.

“All my athletes took it,” BALCO founder Victor Conte, whose acolytes included Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, said of an over-the-counter supplement he claimed mimicked the effects of Viagra.

“It’s bigger than creatine. It’s the biggest product in nutritional supplements.”

Among the off-label uses for Viagra, which first went on the market in 1998, it:

* Helps build endurance, especially for athletes who compete at high altitudes
* Delivers oxygen, nutrients and performance-enhancing drugs to muscles more efficiently
* Counteracts the impotence that can be a side-effect of testosterone injections

I asked two of my exercise physiologist colleagues about the potential performance-enhancing effects of Viagra. Both felt that it is unlikely that the drug would help. The reason being that the problem isn’t getting blood flow to the muscle but the muscles using the blood flow. One was a little more believing of the theoretical improvement, but felt it would have no practical effect. The other felt there was almost no way it could work. In sum, it’s probably a placebo effect that leads athletes to use Viagra. This effect could be exacerbated by positive sexual experiences.

Boy, it’s going to be fun managing the spam in these comments.

2 Responses “Does Viagra Improve Performance?…Athletic Performance”

  1. John says:

    Does it seem like your performance might actually be diminished as opposed to “enhanced” if you had to play a baseball game while still saluting the flag, even after the National Anthem is over?

  2. Cliff says:

    A friend of mine says that “Viagra makes you feel like Superman” (in the other context). That might be enough to make a positive mental outlook.

    As I understnd it, specifically, Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis all increase blood flow in small vessels by causing them to dilate. Viagra was intended for heart usage, but was no better than nitroglyucerin at that. Anecdotal reports from early test users caused them to look at the other uses.

    Each of this class of drugs affects muscles more in either the heart or the pubic area. Real effect is probably minimal for public athleltic performance (unless you are in the porn industry and do it in public).