Are NFL players taking Viagra as a PED?

There has been much discussion lately around the league about the use of Adderall by players and how those who haven’t received a waiver from the NFL to use it have been suspended (this guy, this guy, this guy and potentially these guys can attest to that).

But you know what we aren't talking about when it comes to the supplements that NFL players might be taking to enhance their performance? The little blue pill that is used for … um … treating heart disease.

Luckily for us, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall came to the rescue on Wednesday.

"I don’t know too much about Adderall," Marshall said, via the Chicago Tribune. "I know guys -- it is such a competitive league -- guys try anything just to get that edge. I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with size and some smarts to give me my edge. But some guys, they’ll do whatever they can to get an edge. I’ve heard of some crazy stories. I’ve heard [of] guys using like Viagra, seriously. Because the blood is supposedly thin, some crazy stuff. So, you know, it’s kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these things so you have to be careful."

OK, Marshall is sorta right.

SI.com points us in the direction of this NY Times article from 1998 that asks the question whether Viagra gives athletes an advantage.

Writes Jere Longman:

Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, was devised to treat pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in arteries of the lungs. The drug works by suppressing an enzyme that controls blood flow, allowing the vessels to relax and widen. The same mechanism facilitates blood flow into the penis of impotent men. In the case of athletes, increased cardiac output and more efficient transport of oxygenated fuel to the muscles can enhance endurance.

"Basically, it allows you to compete with a sea level, or near sea level, aerobic capacity at altitude," Kenneth Rundell, the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Marywood, said of Viagra.

Other experts aren’t quite as sure about the effects of Viagra on an athlete and if it even could be proven one way or the other.

But if there’s anything we know about pro athletes, it’s this: many of them will use any edge they can get to enhance their performance on the field. In this case, though, it has the added bonus of enhancing their performance in the bedroom as well.

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