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U.S. Army Research on Pharmacological Enhancement of Soldier Performance: Stimulants, Anabolic Hormones, and Blood Doping

Friedl, Karl E.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: November 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue - p S71–S76
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001027
Brief Review

Friedl, KE. U.S. army research on pharmacological enhancement of soldier performance: stimulants, anabolic hormones, and blood doping. J Strength Cond Res 29(11S): S71–S76, 2015—The level playing field of competitive sports is an irrelevant concern in asymmetrical warfare. However, there is a common theme of pressure to use performance-enhancing drugs because athletic or military opponents may be using them to advantage. This interest is fueled by personal anecdotes, misconceptions, and myths, and decisions to use or not to use pharmacological interventions may ignore available scientific data. The U.S. Army has led research in this area, with an abundance of published data extending back to World War II. Behavioral effects have been a consistent concern. A key conclusion to be drawn from this research is that although there may be specialized applications for some of these interventions, the majority of soldiers will gain the greatest performance benefits from effective physical and mental training programs combined with good principles of rest and nutrition. Furthermore, the perceived need to improve human biology with drugs may be solving the wrong problem, trying to fit the human to the demands of poorly conceived tactics, tasks, and equipments instead of capitalizing on human capabilities.

Knowledge Preservation Program, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, California

Address correspondence to Karl E. Friedl,

Copyright © 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.