We've all heard of alternative medicines and all sorts of things like that. Homeopathics. Acupuncture. Mexican drug runners. Vitamin V? Well, guess again.
Seems that old buddy Clemens and a ton of others have been using Viagra as a performance enhancer, and not for the bedroom.
Clemens stashed the clearly marked, diamond-shaped pills in a GNC vitamin bottle in his locker at Yankee Stadium, according to a source familiar with the clubhouse, perhaps keeping the drug undercover to avoid the inevitable wisecracks about all the girlfriends he needed to please.Let the jokes begin, now.
Clemens wasn't alone. The pitcher, who is believed to have scored the drug from a teammate, joined the burgeoning number of athletes who have turned Vitamin V and its over-the-counter substitutes into one of the hottest drugs in locker rooms.
The drug is so widely used for off-label purposes that it has drawn the attention of anti-doping officials and law-enforcement agencies in the United States and beyond.
"All my athletes took it," BALCO founder Victor Conte, whose acolytes included Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, said of an over-the-counter supplement he claimed mimicked the effects of Viagra.
"It's bigger than creatine. It's the biggest product in nutritional supplements."
Among the off-label uses for Viagra, which first went on the market in 1998, it:
- Helps build endurance, especially for athletes who compete at high altitudes
- Delivers oxygen, nutrients and performance-enhancing drugs to muscles more efficiently
- Counteracts the impotence that can be a side-effect of testosterone injections
Don Catlin, the founder of the independent organization Anti-Doping Research in Southern California, said he has been raising questions about Viagra's use in sports for years.
Catlin said he even wrote a letter several years ago to then-WADA chairman Dick Pound, notifying him that Viagra might be a doping agent.
The e-mail got bounced back by Pound's offensive-content filter, which thought it was spam.