“Nobody can win the Tour de France without taking performance-enhancing drugs,” Lance Armstrong, the disgraced seven-times winner said on an interview in 1999. Over the years, Armstrong and other top athlete are caught using EPO and other forms of blood doping.These performance enhancer cause a huge issue in endurance sports, such as cycling and marathon. It is currently banned in major sports event like “tour de france” and olympic, to maintain fairer competition. The issue bring up these questions, how does blood doping enhance performance and is banning it morally necessary?
Blood doping improves athletic performance by artificially boosting the blood’s ability to bring more oxygen to muscles, by increasing the amount of hemoglobin, a protein for oxygen distribution, and the amount of red blood cells in the bloodstream. The most commonly used type of blood doping include t of erythropoietin (EPO), injections with synthetic chemicals that carry oxygen, and blood transfusions, all of which are prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). When more oxygen is provided during the aerobic respiration, the athlete is able to work with “greater endurance, stamina and in turn, improve their performance for up to 90 days”(Joyner).
However, there are also drawbacks to the drug, with health concerns coming into play. EPO thickens the blood which leads to an increased risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cerebral or pulmonary embolism. According to WADA, the “misuse of recombinant human EPO may also lead to autoimmune diseases with serious health consequences”. Between 1987 and 1990, shortly after athletes are believed to have begun using EPO, 20 young Belgian and Dutch cyclists died.
Blood doping is is difficult to detect, even with the detection allogeneic/homologousblood transfusion doping implemented in 2004. “It would be possible for most people to use low doses of the stuff [EPO], enough to get an edge,”(Joyer). In a recent study led by Lundby on eight males injected with EPO, only 2 out of 48 urine samples showed up positive in lab tests. Despite this, the total red blood cells and aerobic capacity of the participants were significantly elevated. This is a clear evidence that many competitors can get away with blood doping.
In conclusion, blood doping is a serious issue concerning the sports society because athletes are able to acquire unfair advantage using these drugs. If we allow competitors to use drugs, it will lead to a misleading moral of competition, whereby players will focus on the drug, instead of the skills and hard work. There will also be an increase in death by blood doping, as the drug will increase the risk of several deadly diseases, such as heart disease and stroke,. We should approach this issue by continuing to ban these illegal performance enhancers. Finally, we should increase the precision of blood testing, adding on more consequences of using these illicit methods.