Lance Armstrong Steroids: What Drugs Did Lance Armstrong Use?

Lance Armstrong, former professional road racing cyclist and seven-time Tour de France winner, is widely expected to have admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he has used illegal performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.

In October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released over a thousand pages of evidence implicating the cyclist and several others of doping to win, a practice both illegal and widely condemned by sports commentators and fans. The USADA claimed that Armstrong had used “prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and/or masking agents,” stripping him of his seven wins.

Armstrong has viciously defended himself against such rumors in the past, but now appears to have come clean.

From CNN, here’s a list of drugs Armstrong is accused of using, and an explanation of what they are:

EPO: Erythropoietin is a naturally occurring hormone the body uses to stimulate red blood cells in the kidneys. Used artificially, it can improve the amount of oxygen which reaches the muscles, which has a big effect on endurance and recovery time. EPO has been banned since the 1990s. 

Corticosteroids: These are synthetic versions of the naturally occurring hormone cortisol, a stress hormone that increases blood sugar levels, suppresses the immune system, and aids in fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. Athletes use this to artificially increase their strength.

Testosterone: Testosterone is a hormone which regulates bone density, fat distribution, red blood cell generation and sex drive. In men, it regulates sperm creation. Taking testosterone has effects similar to EPO and steroids, allowing athletes to “bulk up” but with numerous side effects including mood swings, cardiovascular disease, liver dysfunction and shrunken testicles.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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