We all know what doping is — it's where people take drugs, usually to increase the amount of oxygen in their bodies, to raise their performance levels.
It's illegal in all sports, including the Paralympics.
One thing you might not know, however, is the thing called "boosting" — and it's specifically for those who have had spinal cord injuries.
Boosting uses self-inflicted injuries to trigger autonomic dysreflexia, a condition that's considered a medical emergency when it happens by accident. Although boosters can't feel the pain, it activates the sympathetic nervous system, causing risky rises in blood pressure.
That's right. Athletes are breaking their own toes, crushing their own scrotums, blocking catheters… all to win races.
One study author said this, after finding out that boosting can, well, boost a wheelchair race performance by nearly 10%:
"If you raise your blood pressure, your heart theoretically pumps more blood. If your heart pumps more blood, you get more oxygen. And if you get more oxygen, your performance is improved."
So it has been banned.
Not only is it performance enhancing, but it's stupidly dangerous. Athletes are now tested for high blood pressure before events like wheelchair racing — but even that could be an accidental thing, like if someone is strapped in too tightly. It then becomes very hard to detect.
One official said:
"If an athlete generally has high blood pressure and has a medical certificate to prove it, we will allow those athletes to compete. But if an athlete is really tense and doesn't have a certificate — even it's from autonomic dysreflexia — then they're banned from competing on the grounds it could lead to a heart attack or a stroke."
As they should be.
Of the 37 athletes tested before Beijing, none of them tested positive — yet, nearly 1 in 3 athletes with spinal cord injuries have said they tried it.
We can't imagine doing something like that!
Just play a clean game, guys!
[Image via AP Images.]