Use of performance-enhancing drugs at contests

Discussion in 'tMP's .... "On the Spot" interview area' started by James Yelland, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Dear Alan

    We hear a lot about 'cheating' in brass band contests - players playing other players' parts, players missing out parts and so on. Yet one subject never seems to get discussed - the use of performance-enhancing drugs at brass band contests. I refer of course to beta-blockers as a means of controlling performance anxiety. It's common knowledge that many players use them - Roger Webster says as much in his article in the latest issue of the Brass Herald and I've certainly known countless instances of it. What does the ABBA have to say on the matter? Other sports have outlawed it, (and band contests are unquestionably a sport - a competition between two or more sides to gain a prize). People who use drugs to gain an unfair advantage are obviously cheating. I presume the ABBA are concerned about this and was wondering when random drug testing for players will be introduced.

    Best wishes

  2. Ankanala

    Ankanala Member

    Hello James

    This a serious and somewhat controversial point. Through the years since the early 80s I have known of many people and sometimes even bands encouraged by conductors to take relaxant drugs to control nerves at contests. I am not convinced that these are performance enhancing mainly because I have yet to hear a person I know to have taken them play well or even just better than in rehearsal.

    You ask about ABBA, but I fail to see what it has to do with them. Adjudicators can only assess what they hear, it is surely up to administrators and/or contest organisers to police this situation and set in motion any tests that you are suggesting, bearing in mind that a disciplinary constitution has to be in place before any tests are introduced. Referees in sport or not responsible for drug testing are they?

    This is without doubt a can of worms that once opened will never be controlled to everyones satisfaction and some people would rather it be brushed under the carpet. In sport huge sums of monies are involved whereas with us it is only a hobby in general. Drug-testing and everything that goes with it will be hugely expensive and frankly I can never see it happening.

    It is something I am afraid we will just have to accept.
  3. John Stirzaker

    John Stirzaker New Member

    Hi James,

    I have known of this problem for at least 30 years, and like you I did not like or agree with it. Now I would be unable to compete under your proposal, as I have to take beta blockers on a daily basis.

    Do they effect my performance? Absolutely not, I still get the same feelings as I did in 20s, I still split notes, and misread, as far as I am concerned it makes no difference at all, apart from doing the job beta blockers are supposed to do, in my case regulate my erratic heart beat.

    There is no danger of the authorities ever sorting this, after all they have consistently failed to act in sex cases, and more recently the actions against a fraudster were none existent.

    To enforce rules and proposals you need a good ruling body, England does not have that, as can be seen by the ineffectual and useless BBE. Until we have an FA type set up, brass banding will be seen as a quirky tradition undertaken by whippet walking, flat capped enthusiasts !
    mikelyons likes this.
  4. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    You would have to also stop bands drinking.....beta blockers have as others said been around for many years!
    mikelyons likes this.
  5. Bbmad

    Bbmad Active Member

    I don't know how much you know about brass bands, but you clearly know nothing about football. An FA like body to sort things out?
    Vegasbound likes this.
  6. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Drinks beer, beats his wife & races whippets in this 1960's documentary on banding narrated by Sir Michael Parkinson!

    Dayv, Slider1 and Matthew like this.
  7. kierendinno

    kierendinno Member

    Beta-blockers are primarily used for conditions such as angina, Atrial Fibrillation and hypertension, as well as hyperthyroidism, and also are a prescription only medication. If you regulated their use in brass bands then you'd be discriminating against quite a number of people who use the drug for non-performance related conditions!
    Accidental and Vegasbound like this.
  8. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    how can they ban the use of stuff like that when they (in 90 odd percent of the time) cant even provide a bloody toilet or a decent warm up room !
    mikelyons and Vegasbound like this.
  9. Brandy Simpson

    Brandy Simpson New Member

    Really good topic, thanks for posting.

    As a player who's felt heroic at some contests & a quivering wreck at others, I can see really good arguments on both sides of this debate. However on balance I'm not convinced that Beta Blockers (BB's) would be classed as performance enhancing in the traditional sense, as say for instance EPO would be for athletes as a way of chemically increasing a runner or cyclists power & endurance. BB's won't make you play any better than you would in your bedroom or the bandroom, they just may provide assistance in preventing debilitating nerves from ruining a performance. This would be much in the same way as spectacles would assist a player with myopia to read music more clearly, or cortisone might help with painful arthritic fingers or paracetamol may help that hangover headache from Saturday night, prior to performing on Sunday at Butlins! Each of these examples provide an 'artificial' helping hand to boost a players 'natural state' performance. Imagine the poor myopic, arthritic, hungover Trombonist having to hand over his specs to an ABBA or BBE official whilst being tested for paracetamol & cortisone enhancements prior to taking the stage at the Area. Heaven help the poor soul if he's unfortunate enough to be administering prescription medicines for a heart problem too!

    Many sports have allowed the use of BB's over many years, (Snooker, Darts, Rifle Shooting, Archery), with one famous Canadian Snooker player of the 1980's allegedly, (and possibly apocryphally), being prescribed 14 pints of lager & a couple of BB's by his physician before every match.

    Finally, & as mentioned in a previous post, BB's are quite a ubiquitous prescription medicine these days for a number of heart related conditions. Given the average age of musicians across our movement, a ban could preclude many hundreds of amateur players from enjoying contesting, whist their only 'crime' is to contract some form of heart related disease. Only Superman is bullet proof, can we really be certain that the fickle finger of fate wont strike us next!
    Matthew and ari01 like this.
  10. Understandable Kirk Stevens would need a bit of dutch courage to be seen in some of them suits.
  11. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Not in anyway as those using beta blockers as athletes do would register such with the medical body used by brass bands at great cost to regulate such things, so although it could be won't be!
  12. euphantastic

    euphantastic New Member

    Who's going to pay for this blood testing /urine sampling?
    Will it be restricted to certain contests?
    Will it be random testing or everyone in the band?
    Will there be a suitable punishment for the triangle player who takes them?

    And like a previous comment, what about those that have to take them for medical reasons...
  13. David Evans

    David Evans Active Member

    ...and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
  14. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    I've used them in the past. Worked a treat as I become very nervous under pressure. Not used them with my current band but was devastated when I began shaking in the middle of a contest performance for no apparent reason. (We won so it didn't impact on the band). To be honest the nerves are enough for me to think about giving up for good. It's stupid and irrational but some of us are far more affected than others and it doesn't make any difference about the level of playing. (I've dropped a few sections thinking it would be easier). I don't think it is cheating as taking beta blockers does not compensate for hours of practice but then I don't condone it either as the things can give you double vision besides other side effects. Perhaps it is a personality defect to be so affected but some of us are rather shy in real life.
  15. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    It would make your toes curl up in amazement if i told you who else in the same band used to take them too.

  16. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

  17. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    Never ! Never sat in a seat that i felt i needed to, what hapens at band and all that ........ :oops::oops::oops:
    I found lager helped but only afterwards.
  18. Cochyn

    Cochyn Member

    You can't really compare beta blockers with performance enhancing drugs that athletes use. They may settle nerves, but they don't make you a better player!
  19. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    But artificially removing/reducing the negative effects of nerves IS going to make someone a 'better' player and enhance their performance, at least in the short term...

    (I don't have an issue with folks taking beta blockers btw)

    And who's comparing? o_O
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  20. Cochyn

    Cochyn Member

    How if that particular individual differs technically between Tom Hutchinson and a lowly 4th section player of grade 5 standard for example? It's not a wonder drug! Yes it helps with tachycardia which inevitably reduces palpitations, but it's not going to make you an all star player over night like performance enhancing drugs made lance Armstrong cycle like a bionic man... I just see it as a weak argument really, you can't compare the two.
    Accidental likes this.

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