Athletes can use our understanding of respiration to improve performance through the use of altitude training but this is not available to all. Should this be banned?
As science improved, athletes have searched every corner to discover a new more efficient way to improve their body capacity. The most recent being high altitude training, many endurance athletes decided to move into remote high altitude for few weeks (2400 meters or higher above sea level) due to the “hidden benefits of intermittent hypoxic training” (My Protein). Hypoxic training is also known as intermittent hypoxic therapy is the action of receiving regular exposure to an environment where oxygen availability is reduced due to natural or artificial methods. The consequence of this change in oxygen pressure is for the body to produce greater amounts of EPO as the altitude, or confined lab stimulates the production of red blood cells (erythrocytes) In the kidneys, subsequently resulting in an increase in red blood cells produced. Theoretically improving performance for the athlete when competing back at sea level.
In fact, there are two ways to practice hypoxic training. The first and natural one where athletes physically go to high altitudes for the recommended 2 weeks. Or the newer advanced strategy of artificial methods by specifically injecting EPO directly into the bloodstream where after being released into the bloodstream it binds with receptors in the bone marrow, where it stimulates the production of red blood cells (erythrocytes). Matters of fact according to a study done by Jacob A.Sinex from the University of Shanghai both show to be equally effective. In fact, the difference comes down to ethics. Many cultures and sports associations have always had a negative perception towards artificial methods, often relating it to a wide range of doping often illegal in the sports associations.
So should altitude training be allowed? I believe altitude training should be allowed, in fact logically speaking if someone was supposed to cheat and practice. Altitude training will be too costly and hard to monitor. Not to mention, if altitude training does receive a ban, the athletes from high altitude nations such as Ethiopia or Afghanistan will receive dramatic effects resulting it to be too unpractical in many categories, from a financial point to a logical point of view. On the other hand, I do believe artificial methods of hypoxic training should be banned, or at least intensively monitored by an Olympic health council or such. In fact, artificial methods can perhaps be compared to blood doping, a non-biological maneuver to improve their body capacity. Considered unethical in many countries and cultures around the world. Also going against the Olympics mission of having “Value of a good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” towards sports.
Angst, Jason. “Women In Sport.” International Olympic Committee, IOC, 16 May 2017, www.olympic.org/the-ioc/promote-olympism.
Billaut, François. “A Higher Calling, but Does Altitude Training Work?” The Conversation, The Conversation, 25 May 2018, theconversation.com/a-higher-calling-but-does-altitude-training-work-3055.
Borden, Richard A. “The High Altitude Sports Training Complex: Not Just for Endurance Athletes.” Strength And Conditioning Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, 1998, p. 64., doi:10.1519/1073-6840(1998)0202.3.co;2.
Reid, Rob. “Should Living At Altitude Be Banned Like Steroids?” Techdirt., Rob Reid, 12 May 2006, www.techdirt.com/articles/20060512/0317244.shtml.
Sinex, Jacob A. “Hypoxic Training Methods for Improving Endurance Exercise Performance.” Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, Elsevier, 23 July 2015, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254615000836.