Blood Doping

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Running the Race to Obtain the Prize?

Each year athlete's ability to perform seems to increase by leaps and bounds. Some reasons for this can be attributed to better training methods, better conditioning techniques, and better over all health of the athlete. While most situations involve one or more of the previously scenarios, some athletes always seem to take it to a step further. They engage in a process called blood doping. This procedure does increase physical performance and athletic ability, but potentially may do more harm than good. For purpose of emphasis and understanding, some background information is needed to fully understand exactly what blood doping can do for an individual. In order for muscles to perform, they need a ready supply of oxygen. During high intensity exercise, oxygen is depleted and the body can not get enough oxygen to the muscle in order for them to perform their optimal potential. This lack of ability to get oxygen to the muscle is called oxygen debt and results in lactic acid being formed. Lactic acid is a waste product of anaerobic cellular respiration within the muscle tissue, which can cause muscle sourness that, usually, is felt after a hard or long workout. Fatigue usually sets in with the onset of lactic acid production. Oxygen is carried to the muscle by two delivery systems. Three percent of oxygen is carried in plasma and ninety-seven percent is in hemoglobin, the principal protein in erythrocytes (red blood cells). If hemoglobin amounts are increased, this will lead to increased oxygen levels that can be transported to the muscles. Allowing the muscles to become more fatigue resistant. Blood doping could have opposite effect of those intended. A large infusion of red blood cells could increase blood thickness and cause a decrease in cardiac output and a reduction in oxygen content. Both would reduce aerobic capacity. The human heart was not designed to pump thickened blood throughout the body...
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