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US footballers using Viagra for that extra push

Posted on Nov 30, 07:20PM | IANS

Some professional American football players in the US are reportedly getting an extra 'edge' on the playing field from a drug that is usually prescribed for enhancing performance in the bedroom, according to at least one player in the National Football League (NFL).

"I've heard crazy stories. I've heard of guys using Viagra, seriously, because the blood, it's supposed to thin," said Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"It's such a competitive league and guys try anything just to get that edge," he said.

Marshall's comments about the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra were in response to questions about the recent spike of Adderall abuse in the NFL, a drug typically used to treat attention deficit disorder, which is being blamed for a rising number of performance-enhancing drug (PED) suspensions within the league.

In recent weeks, at least three players have been placed on PED suspensions after testing positive for Adderall, which is on the list of NFL banned substances. Viagra is not on the list.

"Whatever the inherent advantage might be, the disadvantage -- in the middle of a football game -- seems obvious," said Marc Sessler, a writer for the NFL's Around the League blog.

In April 2011, wide receiver Louis Murphy, who was then with the Oakland Raiders football team, was arrested for possession of Viagra without a prescription. According to reports, there was no reason to believe he was using the medication to increase his on-field performance.

And while experts are divided over whether Viagra can actually enhance an athlete's on-field ability, Dr. Andrew McCullough, a sexual health expert at New York University, said back in 2009 that in sports where speed and endurance are key, the drug could give players an advantage.

"If you have more oxygen going to your muscles, that's more energy and that makes you a better athlete," McCullough said.

"Even if it only gives you a 10 percent increase, in peak athletes that is enough to win," he said.