Thursday, 15 March 2012

What is Cheating?

I came across an advert for this: in Pro Cycling the other week, advertised as the 'World's first legal, safe and all natural EPO Booster' and it got me thinking.

To begin with,  EPO (erythropoietin) is a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates red blood cell production. So if there is more EPO in your bloodstream, more red blood cells will be produced and your aerobic capacity will be increased due to the greater oxygen carrying capacity. Increased aerobic capacity defined in terms of endurance sports=you go faster for longer.

Now, to take a phrase: 'Blood doping is the process of artificially increasing the amount of red blood cells in the body in an attempt to improve athletic performance.' Rice University Source Blood doping is banned in sport for obvious reasons. 

So my question is; if this ', safe...EPO Booster' 'stimulates the body's natural production of EPO and in turn improves athletic performance, how does that differ from other already banned ways of getting this improvement artificially such as blood transfusions or synthetic EPO abuse? 

Moreover does it still not carry the dangerous side effects of EPO abuse such as an increased Haematocrit level that the body can't handle? We've all heard the stories of juiced up 90's Professional Cyclists having to set alarms for the middle of the night to go on the rollers to stop their heart rates dropping too low:  Increased EPO levels-->Increased Red Blood Cell Count-->Increased Haematocrit-->Increased Blood Viscosity-->Risk of blood clots.

Will WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) move to ban this 'EPO Boost'? I'm not sure. How does one classify what cheating is? Artificial improvements? That would explain why substances such as Amphetamines, EPO, Growth Hormone etc are banned. But what about an 'all natural' product? Should it be banned on ethical 'nobody should be given the opportunity to gain an artificial advantage' grounds? That then raises the issue about things like Beetroot Juice for example, as that has been shown in studies to give athletic advantages when taken. But how could you outlaw something like that? 

I shall leave you with a link to the WADA Banned List: (EPO) in which it states, 

'The following substances and their releasing factors are prohibited:

Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents [e.g. erythropoietin (EPO) 
and other substances with similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s). '

Does the 'legal, safe' EPO Booster not have similar biological effects? I am no pharmacologist, but I would suggest it does.

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