The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently financing a study at Marywood University into the possible athletic advantages that may be gained through use of Viagra, the New York Times reported today.
Viagra (seldenafil citrate) was developed to treat high-blood pressure in the lungs. It works by suppressing an enzyme that controls blood flow, allowing the vessels to relax and widen. For men with, um, erectile dysfunction, this allows for greater blood flow into the penis. For athletes, the idea is that the drug will facilitate a more efficient delivery of oxygen to other muscles as well.
So far the effect on athletes at sea-level has been of little or no consequence as the blood vessels of a healthy athlete will already be fully dilated. But studies at a Everest base camp have shown that the drug was highly effective in reducing blood pressure at high altitudes.
Also, the study is looking into whether Viagra may be of use to those having to perform in highly polluted areas. It is suspected that Viagra use was apparently very popular at the Beijing Olympics for its ability to delivery oxygen at full capacity despite the copious amount of god-know-what in the air.
Probably the most damning thing about Viagra use in sports is its links with steroids. Viagra is used by athletes for two reasons; to minimize the time it takes to deliver the steroids to the muscle and to relieve the, um, erectile dysfunction often caused by steroid abuse.