The Use Of Blood Doping To Improve Athletes’ Performance

Everyday athletes are trying to find new and creative ways to help enhance their performance even if the method they use is dangerous. Before athletes would increase their performance by eating healthier, knowing their calorie intake, restricting themselves from bad sugars, and finding different kinds of workout routines but it’s just not enough. Many are turning to performance-enhancing drugs like steroids and other kinds of supplements but athletes are trying to avoid getting into trouble with a drug test, this is where blood doping became an example to improve athletes while steering clear from getting into trouble. People have questioned whether it’s safe or not and if it’s considered cheating and unethical but blood doping is really not the safest and it’s wrong.

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Blood doping has become a huge part of sports and many athletes are trying this method. Blood doping increases red blood cell mass to boost the blood’s ability to bring more oxygen to the person’s muscles. This causes athletes to improve aerobic capacity, consuming the highest amount of oxygen while exercising, and have a high endurance level. There are three different types of blood doping, namely, blood transfusions, EPOs, and synthetic oxygen carriers. Athletes use blood transfusions by taking out blood from their body to produce more red blood cells creating better performance. EPO, erythropoietin, is a peptide hormone that our body naturally produces. EPO is used to stimulate red blood cells production by releasing it from the kidneys and let it act on the bone marrow. Synthetic oxygen carriers are perfluorocarbons and hemoglobin related and they help transport oxygen to the tissues so they are able to do blood transfusions quickly. Although many athletes are using these kinds of techniques and seem perfectly fine, there are consequences and risks.

Increasing one’s red blood cells will cause the blood to thicken resulting the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, it also raises the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Blood transfusions have a greater risk, especially if the blood is contaminated causing the spread of infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Having EPO injections can give a user threatening levels of plasma potassium, hypertension, and have flu-like symptoms. Athletes who are injecting themselves with synthetic oxygen carriers are at risk of heart disease, strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. Each type of blood doping has dangerous side effects but there is an easier and legal way.

Instead of taking blood out or injecting hormones and any other substances inside our bodies, there is a natural way to produce more red blood cells. Training in high altitudes allows athletes to have their muscles use oxygen more efficiently when they are able to return to a much lower elevation the low oxygen levels will stimulate EPO causing red blood cells to increase allowing more oxygen to transfer to the tissues. Although this is safer, there are limitations. For example, not training above 8,000 ft, deconditioning can happen, it can increase stress hormones causing weight loss and muscle atrophy. This type of blood doping is the safest but it also has restrictions and consequences just like the other ones.

Increasing one’s red blood cell mass has many risks and it’s not recommended. I believe using these techniques and methods to enhance performance are unethical but I don’t think it’s cheating. Many have different tactics that help them perform better in sports like dietary supplements and regimes, training routines, and using the best coach they can find but they are always trying to gain an advantage against their rivals. To me, increasing red blood cells is not cheating and if it was then why have we not banned altitude doping? I think it’s morally wrong because it’s not healthy and athletes are at risk of many heart problems and diseases but it’s not cheating. Blood doping has been proven to increase one’s performance but it’s not the safest thing to do.

14 May 2021

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