The sport of triathlon is growing in popularity and becoming more and more competitive. Even amateurs are looking for that extra edge over the others in their respective age groups. USAT and WTC don’t really test for anything, so what’s the risk of taking some illegal Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)? For many, the only barrier between them and PED-fired speed is the ability to get a hold of this black magic. You can’t just walk to the corner and order up an 8-ball of rock with a side of PEDs – so the only options are a doctor’s prescription or a friend in Mexico (my boy Paco can hook you up if you’re interested). Recent research has found a better alternative that, sadly, many wash down the drain.
Researchers at the University of Ottawa have discovered that a common mold, P. roqueforti, produces a byproduct that could provide a performance enhancement to athletes. P. roqueforti is a common house mold that grows on old moist food, and often even in water bottles. Triathletes have moldy water bottles everywhere, and now there may be a use for them. The U of O researchers found that a byproduct of the mold’s reproductive cycle has the same effects on the human body as the drug Salbutamol. This drug relaxes the muscles in the upper body – specifically, the lungs and throat – which opens up airways and allows more oxygen to enter the body. Fatigue is thus decreased considerably – think “the opposite of an altitude mask”. With more widely-opened airways, the increase in exposed surface area of the lungs allows for greater absorption of oxygen into the blood stream. This gives endurance athletes a boost in exercise lasting longer than 4 hours.
Not only does this breakthrough discovery mean easy access to PED’s for many athletes, but right now researchers are saying that there is no easy way to detect the consumption of P. roqueforti using current techniques. With almost all PED testing being done via urine or blood analysis, consumed traces of this potent mold can only be found in stool. P. roqueforti provides an easy and affordable alternative to making dodgy deals in a sketchy alleyway behind Taco Bell. USAT, IOC and many other sports’ governing bodies have yet to make statements on this subject, though rest assured, you can expect something sooner rather than later with Rio 2016 on the horizon. How many athletes will have more than calories and salts in their bottles? How long ahead of time will those bottles be put on the warm windowsill to get a little moldy?
News like this is scary for triathlon as a sport, and could wreck the racer-to-racer respect seen among age groupers competing for “fun”. Especially on the pointy end of the age-groups, the long distance athletes see considerable gains when using PEDs. Kona qualifying could come down to the amount of mold in a water bottle vs another. Clean Bottle will soon be out of business. All those bottles under the seats in your car may be worth some serious coin in the right market.
If anyone has a strong enough stomach to drink the mold, please comment below with the results. Do it for science.*
*TRSTriathlon is not an accredited health, fitness, lifestyle, or fungus authority. Please take nothing we say seriously and don’t do anything stupid, like eating mold, licking toads, or reading more of our ridiculous-but-hilarious articles.