What is Blood Doping?

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blood doping

Blood Doping is a term used to refer to the illegal process of enhancing the athletic ability of athletes. Blood doping occurs when artificial methods are used to boost the ability of an athlete’s blood to carry more oxygen to body muscles. In most cases, blood doping works by increasing the level of hemoglobin available in a person’s bloodstream. Hemoglobin is a protein present in the blood that transports oxygen to the body. When the level of hemoglobin is increased, more oxygen is transported to the body muscles resulting to more energy in the athlete’s muscles. This raises their performance and stamina especially where athletes involved participate in long distance races like cycling or running. Blood doping is an illegal exercise that is not allowed by sport organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The various kinds of Blood Doping

There are three commonly used kinds of blood doping namely blood transfusion, injection of synthetic oxygen carriers and injection of erythropoietin (EPO). Though blood transfusions are normal in the medical field particularly for patients with conditions such as kidney failure and anemia, blood doping of this kind happens when athletes undergo illegal blood transfusion for purposes of boosting their performance. Injection of erythropoietin (EPO) involves injecting EPO, a hormone generated by the kidney and helps regulate red blood cells production. People suffering from anemia, a condition resulting to end-stage or chronic kidney disease, are usually injected with EPO. In doping, EPO is used to increase production of red blood cells in an athlete’s body so as to increase their performance. Doping done through synthetic oxygen carriers involves injecting chemicals that are able to carry oxygen. In normal medical circumstances, synthetic oxygen carriers are as emergency therapy for blood transfusion patients where there is no blood available, there are high risks of infection or there is insufficient time to get a suitable blood type match. In doping, carriers of synthetic oxygen are used to enhance oxygen supply to muscles for improved performance.