blood doping

The desire to succeed at all costs is one of the biggest motivators for budding and professional sportsmen to try anabolic steroids, performance enhancing drugs, and even blood doping.

In the world of professional sports, blood doping has replaced steroids and other drugs lately. In this form of doping, sportsmen make use of specific techniques and substances for increasing mass of red blood cells. This allows the body to transport more oxygen to the muscles, which dramatically enhance performance and stamina.

Medically, this procedure is used for emergencies when there is no time or little time in ascertaining and cross-matching a patient’s blood-type for transfusion or when there is lack of blood supply for a specific blood type is available or when there is a high risk of infection.

There are three methods of blood doping, namely, blood transfusions, synthetic oxygen carriers, and erythropoietin (EPO) and all of these methods are prohibited under WADA’s List of Prohibited Substances and Methods. Blood doping is common among sportsmen participating in high endurance races such as cross-country skiing and cycling.

During the process of blood doping, athletes remove 2 units (approximately two pints) of blood several weeks before a competition. The withdrawn blood is frozen until one or two days before the competition. Thereafter, it is thawed and injected back into the athlete so that the body has high count of red blood cells and more oxygen is transported into the body that leads to dramatic stamina and performance improvements.

However, blood doping may lead to side effects such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), cerebral embolism, infections, cerebrovascular accident (stroke), and increased blood viscosity (thickness).