Blood Doping

There is a lot of issues around blood doping for athletes. Blood doping according to WebMD is the injection of oxygenated blood into a person. This can be used for medical uses or for athletes who use a great amount of oxygen such as cyclists, marathon runners ECT to enhances their performance. Some people are arguing that if every athlete was allowed to blood dope before their tournaments it would not cause any ethical problems. I believe that blood doping should keep being illegal as it could be the start of addiction such as drugs to enhance their performance more. It also creates more long-term health problems for the athletes.     

There are two types of blood doping that athletes do to enhance their performance. The first type is autologous transfusion. This is when the athlete freezes their own blood for later uses. Then the body thinks that it has lost some of the blood and produces new blood. Afterward, the old blood is put back into the body. With more blood in the body, it has more red blood cells to keep oxygen which allows aerobic respiration to be done longer. The second type of blood doping is injection of erythropoietin (EPO). Erythropoietin is a hormone that is created in the kidney. This hormone advances the development of red blood cells through the bone marrow. This diagram shows how EPO works. Athletes use more EPO rather than autologous transfusion as the effect is more effective.

Image result for how blood doping works

Blood doping is a dangerous thing to do. It creates a lot of health risk issues as blood doping thickens the blood in our body which is dangerous when our heart rate slows down such as when sleeping. The thick blood can lead to high risk of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks ETC. As you can see most of these risks can lead athletes to death. It has been found that for the past 25 years 20 cyclists have died due to blood doping(Jideonwo).  

Despite the death risk why are athletes breaking the rule? This is because like I have mentioned, it enhances the athlete’s performances by a great amount. This has been proven through an experiment done by LancetTV. Some athletes received one EPO shoots every week and the others got nothing for 8 weeks. There was a test called maximal exercise test(MET) leading the athletes to exhaustion done. This test was done before the injection and every two weeks during the treatment period. The first week both groups had similar results for the MET. However, from the second week the difference started to show in favour of the EPO group which persisted throughout the whole experiment(Just like the graph below).

Is blood doping ethical for athletes? The American College of Sports Medicine(ACSM) has brought up the issue of the use of blood doping and said “Blood doping for athletes are unethical, unfair, and exposes the athlete to unwarranted and potentially serious health risks…”  Also, Mario Cazzola, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Haematologica said “As physicians, one of our major duties is to prevent diseases. Since blood doping exposes athletes to several medical risks, we must be against blood doping. Blood doping is not an abstract, intellectual challenge on how to circumvent sports regulations licitly. Sport is intended to improve people’s health, blood doping worsens it.”

However, on the other hand, there are people like Bennett Foddy, Bioethics at Princeton University who said “ Playing sport at an elite level is not suicide, but neither is blood doping. Athletes have health issues every year or so. To reduce the number of health issues that athletes face blood doping is one way to reduce them. Blood doping does not affect the athletes as much as other health issues.

In conclusion, after looking at both pros and cons of blood doping I still believe that it should be banned for athletes to use to enhance performance for a tournament as it could lead the athletes to long-term health issues as well as death.


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