Blood Doping in Endurance Sports

Topics: Red blood cell, Hematocrit, World Anti-Doping Agency Pages: 8 (2836 words) Published: January 5, 2012
Blood Doping in Endurance Sports
Blood doping has become a consistant part of sports and fair play. Blood doping enhances your performance by increasing red blood cell mass and as a result delivering more oxygen to muscle. This “boost” of energy has sparked major controversy in the sports world for what it can do for an athlete during endurance events such as running. The risks involve putting the cardiovascular system of the athlete being in severe danger because of this procedure. Still, there are athletes out there that will put themselves at risk just to experience the prestige feeling of being number one, regardless of the circumstances. Fortunately, the last few years’ studies have made great strides and it has been discovered that athletes can increase their blood’s oxygen level without any side effects. Over the course of many years the use of blood doping and substances have been extremely controversial in endurance sports, how is it monitored and should they be allowed, but more importantly what are the risks?

Each year, athletes in the endurance sports, increase their performances greatly. There is always better training, better conditioning tactics, and healthier athletes. Most athletes in the endurance world take one, if not all, of these methods to improve their races. Some of these ways consist of altitude training and the High Altitude Bed which is a bed that stimulates being 10,000 or more feet above which helps endurance athletes increase EPO in their bodies. Both the altitude bed and altitude training are safe and practical ways to achieve what some athletes accomplish through a highly dangerous and somewhat controversial way. However, there are some athletes that will do anything to find an easy way out, which may hinder their performance rather than help them achieve their goals.

Plasma injections or blood doping is a complicated process, which if done right, can give great benefits for the short term. The process is very precise, in that, if done incorrectly, can be deadly to the recipient of the blood. “Blood doping, often called induced erythrocythemia, is the intravenous infusion of blood to produce an increase in the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity” (Smith). Putting that in black and white, you increase the amount of oxygen in your body, making it easier to race harder. The procedure begins with between 1 to 4 units of a person’s blood (1 unit = 450 ml of blood) being withdrawn. Most athletes go through the drawing of blood several weeks before a key competition so they have time to rebuild their normal level of red blood cells. The blood is then centrifuged and the plasma components are immediately reinfused while the remaining red blood cells are placed in cold storage (McArdle). The red blood cells are then reinfused back into the body, usually one to seven days before a high endurance event. If done correctly, this process can increase the hemoglobin level and red blood count by up to a staggering twenty percent creating the optimum oxygen levels. That percentage can make an average to slightly above average athlete look great and even make a very successful athlete have a performance of a lifetime.

The WADA, the world anti- doping agency, is starting to crack down on endurance athletes trying to hurdle over some of the regulations to get a better time or place in their event. Athletes will do anything in their power to get the best seed time, place and to finish at a desired time and place when the final competition is held. Seed times can be crucial in endurance sports or faster, shorter races; this seed can determine where they are positioned throughout the race. But to prevent the hurdling of regulations a “World Anti- Doping Code” was set in place which all endurance athletes must follow especially when it comes to prestigious events. The purposes of the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Program which supports it are: to protect the athletes' fundamental right to...
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