Trophies stained with blood By Chloe Stafford

If you could, would you increase your athletic ability in order to compete harder in sports? Many would say yes, most people already do increase athletic ability by eating healthy, working out and overall living a healthy lifestyle. However, for athletes at top levels, this isn't enough.

For years, athletes have turned to illegal substances and methods, including blood doping to increase their physical ability. Banned blood doping increases the number of red blood cells in a person's body by using blood transfusions or injections. These red blood cells bring oxygen to the muscles while improving endurance, aerobic capacity and increasing overall athletic performance by 54 percent (WebMD). According to BBC, this process “Allows athletes to train harder, recover more quickly and build more muscle, but they can lead to kidney damage and increased aggression.”

Many professional athletes believe that the pros outweigh the cons and would rather become better athletes even if it puts their health in jeopardy. Others say the only participate in blood doping to get on a even playing field. Despite improving athletic performance, blood doping is dangerous to the health of athletes and should therefore remain banned. So the real question is: Why are some people looking to make blood doping legal?

Pictured above is a image from flickr in which Lance Armstrong is competing in one of his many Tour de France cycling races

Athletes all over the world including Tyson Gay, Yohan Blake and the infamous Lance Armstrong have all been caught for using these banned drugs. However, there are many more people who have participated in this illegal phenomena and haven't been caught, just continuing to hurt themselves and creating an unfair competition. Lance Armstrong, an American Cyclist, has the most notorious case of blood doping, telling the whole world his use of illegal substances on an interview with Oprah in 2013. He proceeded to accept his punishments and his seven tour de France titles were taken away. The world of cycling has ran into this situation many times before but, the new discovery of Armstrong using drugs have sparked many new ideas and theories about blood doping. In 2010, 1.19 percent of cyclists failed doping tests, this shows that testing need to be more thorough (The Washington Post). Armstrong has never failed a blood test yet, he admitted to using this banned method for years. If the face of cycling can cheat his way through a blood test, so can many other athletes.

Above is a political cartoon created by Arend van Dam.

According to The World Anti-Doping Agency’s code, blood doping is banned because any substance that may enhance performance or carries potential health risks is not allowed. This is for athletes safety and in my opinion, safety is the number one priority in any case and should not be compromised for anything, including enhancing performance which is also cheating.

Picture form TennisNow.

Jay P. Garnat, a Sports Psychologist, agrees that blood doping and steroids should stay illegal and testing should become more throughout and common. In his blog, Dr. Garnat explains the many reasons why these substances should be banned, including doping can harm the immune system, and also can cause blood clots which many times leads to death. It was also found that some athletes that use steroids or participate in doping become addicts and they can’t perform without the use of these use of the banned drugs.

People that support the legalization of blood doping argue that the ban against drugs just isn’t working and no matter what people are going to use drugs and blood dope whether they’re illegal or not. They say that it would just be fair if blood doping was legal so that all athletes could compete on the same level as their opponents. However, both the drugs and blood doping, legal or not, still present extreme health hazards and are a danger to the people using them.

Scientist keep making new discoveries about these drugs including, a type of doping called EPO doping. EPO doping does increase the amount of blood cells but, can also increase the amount of cancer cells. This isn’t good news for the 127 olympic athletes that failed blood tests and the many more that are cheating their way to first place (The New York Times).

This graph from Harvey Shapiro Books, shows the number of athletes in the olympics that tested positive for blood doping.

Many athletes need a extra boost to get ahead of the competition. However this can be achieved in a safer manner: by keeping their body healthy and safe. We as a society must also come together and not support the use of these banned drugs and illegal methods. The public, along with the users, must also come to realize that the drugs are unnatural and unfair. Many more rules should be put into place to avoid more unethical use of drugs. Punishments must become more strict and tests need to become more accurate if we want to put an end to this unhealthy use of drugs and blood doping. Athletes should compete with each other based on their physical ability not on the amount chemicals they can take in.

Credits:

Created with images by Kingchief - "Lance-0"

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