Should athletes be allowed to use creatine supplements?
The question of whether the use of Creatine by athletes and other sports enthusiasts is ethical or not has been a topic of debate for quite some time. Critics are of the view that since Creatine is a performance enhancer, its use by athletes can only lead to sustained controversy. Therefore creatine should be banned from the players’ arena.
However, since Creatine is not an anabolic steroid, it is extensively used by people who want to workout, or who require short bursts of increased energy. Creatine has been preferred as a dietary supplement among sprinters participating in 100 meter dash events. Athletes running for a longer distance haven't shown a preference towards Creatine, since a side effect of the supplement is weight gain due to absorption of water by muscles. Among other athletes, football players and baseball players, who again require high amounts of energy for short sprints, have shown a marked preference for Creatine.
Creatine is the preferred supplement among body builders and weight lifters, since it increases lean muscle mass within a short period of time. Also athletes find it easy to stop taking Creatine, since the body itself manufactures the compound, and normal Creatine levels return to the body within four weeks of giving up the supplement.
Creatine is also popular among young college athletes. However, although as many as 28% of college athletes admit to taking creatine, very little information is available about creatine use or the potential health risk in children and adolescents. Physicians thus do not recommend its use in people less than 18 years of age.
Athletes opposed to the use of Creatine allege that the use of the supplement causes muscle and stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Creatine is also responsible for Gastrointestinal and Kidney troubles among users. They also point out the additional weight gain among Creatine users.
According to independent reports, sports organizations such as the WTA, ITF, NBA and FIFA are seeking to ban Creatine among their members. The International Olympic Committee does not specifically ban Creatine but it does ban the use of ergogenic acids. Creatine falls in this group due to its performance enhancing capacities.
It is important to note here that not all Creatine supplements have obtained the FDA approval. FDA approval of Creatine is termed as “loose” by many industry experts, since though Creatine is approved, a lot of marketers add more chemicals to pure Creatine to lessen side effects and increase effectiveness. For example, one seller alleges that its product does not get converted to Creatinine in the human stomach, a compound which negates all expected benefits from ingesting Creatine. The company claims that it does this by addition of chemicals to prevent conversion of Creatine into Creatinine. The effects of such additives on the human body haven’t been studied.
Whatever the case may be, athletes using or considering the use of Creatine should do so cautiously, and after consultation with their governing sporting body and a physician. Creatine has received mixed reviews from athletes as far as how it helped them to enhance performance. While some, including tennis professionals, claimed that they found no difference before and after Creatine use, weightlifters and body builders have given Creatine a full confidence rating. More research is imperative on Creatine and its benefits.
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