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21 Mar

Another Sports Figure Caught Blood Doping…

Another sports figure was caught blood doping a few days ago, and was stripped of his title and banned from his sport for a year. Now here’s the best part: he was a pool player. No, not a swimmer. A pool player. Billiards. Cue sticks. Balls in pockets.

Seriously? Yes. I’m not making this up, the link to the news article is in the links at the end of this post. What sort of advantage could you possibly gain from blood doping for playing pool? Was it endurance pool? I have no idea. In college I sometimes played pool for hours without any detrimental effects other than to my grades, but that’s another story altogether.

If you’re not familiar with the term (or practice) of blood doping it’s really quite simple. Most people probably know that red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. The more red blood cells (RBCs) you have, the more oxygen your body can use. The more oxygen you can use, the better your muscles can perform. This is the reason why the Denver Brocos football team has enjoyed a unique advantage with their home field being at such a high altitude. Visiting teams don’t have the same number of RBCs as the Brocos and so they get “winded” easier.

Lance Armstrong trained in Colorado Springs in order to encourage his body to naturally produce more RBCs. He was also accused of doping in his later years, but steadfastly denied any and all allegations and was never found guilty.

Other than training at altitude, are there any other techniques for blood doping? Sure. One of the easiest ways is to remove some of your own blood, store it, and then before the competition reintroduce your own blood into your body. This method is virtually undetectable since everything that is in your body was, in fact, produced by your body. However storing, transporting, and injecting blood cells is not very easy to do without being caught.

There are also hormones that have been produced that cause your body to increase the rate of production of RBCs. The one used by the pool player was EPO, which was also used by various Tour de France riders in 2007. The advantage of this method is that EPO can be transported and injected much easier than raw blood cells. The disadvantage is, of course, you can get caught.

But still, a pool player? 😕

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