I loved playing the ice breaker “Two Truths and A Lie” with friends and coworkers. The game is played by having each person from the group introduce him or herself by stating truths about their life and one lie. So here’s a possible example of what Lance Armstrong could try to use for his three statements:

1. My name is known in practically every household in America.
2. I have won many major cycling events.
3. I used performance enhancing drugs throughout my career.

The correct answer would be different if you played this game a few years ago and today.

Lance, Lance, Lance… You’ve been such an influence on many athletes, young and old. You got “The Tour” to have a meaning for many Americans. You were the definition of strong and determined. What’s in store for you next?

I have so many thoughts and opinions about the whole performance enhancing drug scheme in cycling and other sports. It’s cheating!!!! But I’ll leave that for another blog. For now, I’m curious about what type of drugs he was taking and how they helped him throughout his career.

Here’s a look at the drugs Armstrong is accused of using, and the side effects (which also includes winning multiple cycling road races):

Blood doping
EPO, or erythropoietin, is a hormone naturally produced by human kidneys to stimulate red blood cell production. Cyclists and other athletes use EPO to raise their red blood cell counts, which increases the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to muscles, improving recovery and endurance.

Although EPO has been banned since the 1990s, the first screening test was used at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.

Blood transfusions have a similar effect on the body’s red blood cell count. Usually an athlete will store some of his/her blood when his/her hemoglobin levels are high, then re-infuse it right before an event. This type of transfusion cannot be detected by current tests, according to the USADA.

Both methods can have dangerous side effects. Increased levels of hemoglobin, which literally thickens the blood, can lead to complications with circulation, putting athletes at risk for cardiovascular problems.

Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids are man-made drugs that resemble the natural hormone cortisol. These are different from anabolic steroids, which athletes take to increase strength. The most common types are cortisone, prednisone and methylprednisolone.
Cortisol is most commonly known as a stress hormone. Corticosteroids work to decrease inflammation that can cause swelling and pain. They can be administered locally — to the specific area that hurts — or systemically through a pill or intravenously.

The list of possible side effects for corticosteroids is long, including weight gain, sudden mood swings, blurred vision, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

Testosterone
Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength, red blood cell production and sex drive. It is found in both men and women; in men, it also helps to regulate sperm production.

Testosterone increases the body’s red blood cell count, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Mood swings, muscle weakness and liver dysfunction are also common for both sexes with overuse.

Using testosterone also shuts down the body’s natural production of the hormone. This can cause the testicles to shrink in men, reducing sperm production.

Maybe now we can link all of the moody and angry accusations Lance made about his fellow cyclists who ratted him out were being due to way too much testosterone!

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic