Pharmacological Ergogenic Aids

A number of pharmacological supplements are potentially beneficial to athletes, although some of them may also have harmful side-effects (as in the case of caffeine for example), or be potentially dangerous or life threatening if abused (as in the case of GHB). Pharmacological supplements available to athletes include:

  • Creatine Monohydrate
  • Caffeine
  • Choline
  • Carnitine
  • Chromium
  • GHB
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Vanadyl Sulphate

An athlete or their coach choosing to use a pharmacological supplement must balance the potential benefits to their training against the potential risks.


The newest supplement available to athletes is Creatine Monohydrate, which research has shown can help with the production of energy and the recovery process. Creatine is a substance naturally present in your body – it is stored in your muscles, and is used to combine with other substances present in your muscles to create a substance called Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP. ATP is an energy rich substance used as fuel for muscular contraction, and although it is stored in the muscles, it gets used up after only a few seconds of intense exercise. So your body manufactures more, either by oxidising carbohydrates, or by converting the bi-product left over from burning ATP, Adenosine diphosphate (ADP), back into ATP again by combining the ADP with another phosphate – and that phosphate is Creatine. Athletes can increase their body’s levels of creatine either by taking creatine supplements directly, or by consuming more of the amino acids that the body uses to manufacture creatine, in the form of supplements. Large amounts of creatine are also found in red meat.