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Boosting Performance at the Paralympics

By Michael Cook

Up to one-third of Paralympians in London may have harmed themselves to boost blood flow.

Michael Cook is editor of the on-line bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”. If this line from Lord Tennyson expresses the essence of the Olympic spirit, then the Paralympics are possibly even more “Olympic” than the big ticket events.

The former captain of Scotland’s Scottish wheelchair basketball team said that the London Paralympic Games “will only add to the perception that there aren’t Paralympic athletes and able-bodied athletes – there are just athletes”.One problematic consequence is that some Paralympians are going to cheat.

Everyone knows that some Olympians cheat. Lance Armstrong, once hailed as the greatest cyclist in history, departed from cycling forever in disgrace this year. He forfeited everything he won since August 1998 – including seven consecutive Tours de France and a bronze in the 2000 Olympics – after declining to defend himself against doping charges.

Drug doping is banned not only because it gives competitors who use drugs an unfair advantage, but also because it can be dangerous. But cheating by athletes disabled by spinal cord injuries can be so dangerous that it puts Lance Armstrong’s activities in the shade.

In a practice called boosting, athletes subject their body to extreme pain to raise their blood pressure and heart beat. This improves their performance because more blood reaches their muscles. In able-bodied athletes blood pressure...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.