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Friday, August 12, 2016

Olympics, Part IV

Blood doping is one of the hardest forms of doping to detect. Athletes take their own blood out and store it for a period of time, and then, right before their competition, they inject it back in, giving themselves a high level of red blood cells, and thus, oxygen-carrying capacity.

It's hard to detect because it's your own blood, with your own DNA, and who's to tell whether it's "new" or "old" blood? I've heard that because it's often stored in plastic bags, that microscopic traces of plastic in the bloodstream indicate that the method was used. But wouldn't it be easy to store the blood in a glass container? And when was the last time you ever heard of an athlete who was barred from his sport because he had too much of his own blood?

Ye Shiwen, the Chinese girl who won the 400 meter individual medley at the 2012 Games, is thought to have blood doped. Before the start of the 400 IM, she and a trainer later found to have syringes went into a bathroom, locked it, then reemerged a few minutes later. (It's a safe bet they didn't go into the bathroom for a quickie right before the start of the race.)

What is preventing athletes from taking their own blood at intervals before the big event, extracting the testosterone from that, and then periodically reinjecting just the testosterone back into their own bloodstreams occasionally, resulting in occasionally extremely high levels of the hormone, which would have a strong muscle-building effect. It would be untraceable, as it would be your own testosterone with your own DNA markers.

It would wreak havoc with your endocrine system, but regular steroids do the same thing, and athletes certainly seem willing to use those.

I don't know whether this method would be feasible; I may be completely out to lunch here, and the amount of testosterone that can be recovered from one's own blood may be too small to be of any use. But I can't help but wonder if the idea hasn't already been tried by some of the countries with state-sanctioned doping programs.


Anonymous said...

I have limited knowledge on this subject (particularly on the business end, which would be the details of testing, and what the test actually keys off of) one small contribution on these points is that (so I have heard) the actual injectable testosterone is in-and-out quickly (which is logical since it's what your body uses naturally, and the body likes quick,subtle, many small steps style adjustments) on the order of ninety minutes...whereas the artificial not-found-in-humans oral pill steroids bend the metabolism for weeks

I should also qualify my stupidity by stating that I heard this 25 years ago, things change

But anyways, I figure even a slight and unresearched contribution like this is symbolic SUPPORT OF THE NICE BLOG here, heehee


John Craig said...

Ha, thank you, I can use all the support I get.

I don't know much about the technical aspects of these things either, but I have heard that they can tell these days if exogenous stuff (not produced by your own body) has been in your body recently. I've also heard that different steroids have different types of effects on your body, i.e., one is better for cutting fat, another is better for gaining muscle, etc.

Anonymous said...

John--funny you should talk about this because I was just watching the mens gymnastics and this one guy in particular, I think American, had bicepts, shoulders, and chest that were abnormally out of proportion with anything believable. I mean it was like a comic book look. If he's not doing the auto injection of his own blood I'll vote for Hillary-:) Thanks, Brian F

John Craig said...

Brian --
Not sure that blood doping results in those kinds of proportions, that's more likely to be a result of steroids. But yeah, we're seeing a lot of stuff at the Olympics that's not natural.