The bottom line then, is that doping seems to work VERY WELL. It’s still difficult, if not impossible, to put an exact number to the benefit, though the data of Franke et al give a pretty good indication that it’s at least 15% in those power based sports. It may be slightly less for endurance based sports, like cycling. But as i wrote yesterday, there’s substantial evidence that hormone levels, particularly testosterone fall during the course of a race like the Tour. And so if Floyd Landis and others are using the drug, the benefit would come from defending this drop-off, which promotes recovery and hence allows them to maintain their form throughout the Tour. In theory then, the systematic use of drugs will have a large effect in cycling, not because it acutely boosts performance, but because it allows it to be maintained. Think of your own training – you always have good days and bad days. But what if I said that by using a drug, like testosterone, you could drastically reduce the number of bad days – that is what these drugs will do for cyclists.
Transdermal patches (adhesive patches placed on the skin) may also be used to deliver a steady dose through the skin and into the bloodstream. Testosterone-containing creams and gels that are applied daily to the skin are also available, but absorption is inefficient (roughly 10%, varying between individuals) and these treatments tend to be more expensive. Individuals who are especially physically active and/or bathe often may not be good candidates, since the medication can be washed off and may take up to six hours to be fully absorbed. There is also the risk that an intimate partner or child may come in contact with the application site and inadvertently dose himself or herself; children and women are highly sensitive to testosterone and can suffer unintended masculinization and health effects, even from small doses. Injection is the most common method used by individuals administering AAS for non-medical purposes.