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Performance-Enhancing Drugs Decrease Performance?

May 04, 2015 05:54 PM EDT

It has long been thought that performance-enhancing drugs give athletes an edge in tough competitions, but now new astonishing research indicates that these methods actually decrease performance.

The findings were published in the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise.

A team of researchers at the University of Adelaide gathered sporting records (including Olympic and world records) of male and female athletes across 26 sports, between 1886 and 2012. They compared data before 1932 - when steroids became available - and afterward, and found that the times, distances and other results surprisingly did not improve after doping.

So it seems that doping is damaging the image of sports for without even benefiting athletes' performance.

"This research looked at 26 of the most controlled and some of the most popular sports, including various track and field events like 100m sprints, hurdles, high jump, long jump and shot-put, as well as some winter sports like speed skating and ski jumping," lead author Dr. Aaron Hermann said in a statement.

"The average best life records for 'doped' top athletes did not differ significantly from those considered not to have doped. Even assuming that not all cases of doping were discovered during this time, the practice of doping did not improve sporting results as commonly believed," he added.

In fact, it may have done the opposite. For example, during the 2000 Olympics, the gold medal winner for the women's 100m sprint performed worse than the winner of the 1968 Olympics.

"This research demonstrates that doping practices are not improving results and in fact, may be harming them - seemingly indicating that 'natural' human abilities would outperform the potentially doping 'enhanced' athletes - and that in some sports, doping may be highly prevalent," Hermann said.

"Doping may produce a minor improvement in one aspect of performance but in other areas, it may have a detrimental effect, which outweighs the positive," he added.

Researchers hope that their findings may change athletes' perspective on doping and learn to compete the old fashioned way - using pure talent and determination alone.

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