• Anatomy Of Fitness

What is BLOOD DOPING?

What is BLOOD DOPING? Why do athletes undertake BLOOD DOPING? How does it help them perform better? Let us understand the SCIENCE of BLOOD DOPING.

Both, professional athletes and recreational athletes are obsessed with performance. High performance is what makes their careers, get sponsorship, become brand ambassadors and earn money. Their careers are short-lived so they have to achieve a lot in a very short time before retiring. All competitive athletes play to win and can go to any extent to win. Most athletes routinely risk their careers and lives to uptake their performance.

What is BLOOD DOPING and how does it work?

BLOOD DOPING is a popular technique to increase aerobic capacity and endurance. It is a practice of increasing the red blood corpuscles (RBC) in the blood to increase oxygen uptake. An increased oxygen uptake ensures a boost in VO2 max. Red blood corpuscles carry oxygen from the lungs to the working muscles. If there is more blood present, more oxygen can be transported to the working muscles thereby increasing performance. Most sport governing bodies have banned BLOOD DOPING but that does not keep athletes from practising it.

How do athletes practise BLOOD DOPING?

There are four ways using which athletes practise BLOOD DOPING:

#1 Blood transfusion from self:

Blood transfusion from self begins by withdrawing blood from the athlete's body a few weeks before the competition. Once the blood is withdrawn it is immediately centrifuged and the separated red blood cells are extracted & stored at around -80 degree Celsius. Freezing at such low temperatures decelerates ageing of the red blood cells. Before the competition (generally one to seven days), the red blood cells are injected back in the body.

#2 Blood transfusion from another person:

Blood transfusion from another person is very similar to a blood transfusion from self. The only difference being, that blood is transfused from one or more individuals to the athlete. The process of withdrawing, centrifuging, storing and reinfusing blood remains the same.

#3 Drugs:

Misuse of certain drugs like Myo-inositol trispyrophosphate (ITPP), Erythropoietin and Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) stabiliser increase the red blood cells. These drugs are clinically administered when the body is not able to naturally produce the required number of red blood corpuscles.

#4 Blood substitutes:

Blood substitutes are nothing but a form of engineered O2 carriers. As the name suggests, blood substitutes can be used as a substitute for blood. The currently available blood substitutes are haemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

What are the side effects of BLOOD DOPING:

There are several side effects of BLOOD DOPING using any of the four methods mentioned above. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Increase in cholesterol levels.

  2. Reduced liver function leading to liver failure and pituitary issues.

  3. Increased blood viscosity leading to decreased cardiac function and decreased blood flow velocity.

  4. Increased blood viscosity may also lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Key takeaways:

  1. BLOOD DOPING is a technique to increase the red blood cells in the blood to increase performance.

  2. Several sport-governing bodies have permanently banned the practice of BLOOD DOPING.

  3. BLOOD DOPING can be done by blood transfusion from self or another person(s), using drugs or using blood substitutes.

  4. There are several life-threatening side effects of BLOOD DOPING including liver failure, stroke, heart attack etc.

Now we understand the SCIENCE of BLOOD DOPING.

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