Should Living At Altitude Be Banned Like Steroids?

from the forget-mile-high-stadium dept

Last year, we had a story that asked If Steroids Are Cheating, Why Isn't LASIK? Both are artificial, technology-based enhancements that athletes use to improve performance over what it would be naturally. While the sporting world isn't yet looking into banning LASIK, they may be banning a different type of technology enhancement: the high altitude tent or any similar system that simulates the oxygen levels at a high altitude. Such systems have been used by athletes for years, after it was shown that living at altitude increases your endurance -- especially if you then train at lower altitudes. The ultimate solution, then, is a system that makes your body think you're at higher altitudes when you sleep or are at home, but then when you train, you're actually at the lower altitudes. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is considering making the use of any such altitude simulation system just as forbidden as the use of steroids, saying it's a similar form of cheating. Others, however, wonder why it's really any different than actually living at altitude. Maybe next, WADA will tackle the massive threat that is LASIK surgery.

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  1. identicon
    ChronoFish, 12 May 2006 @ 4:37am

    Natural enhancements

    Living/training at altitude certainly does give a bennefit, but more so when the competition is held at altitude (where those who have not acclimated will find walking up stairs a strain). While many world class atheltes have migrated to Boulder or have choosen to live at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, your article pretty much says it - Living at high altitude and *training* at low altitudes brings the most bennefit. It's just as difficult to find low altitudes to train in Colorado as it is to find high altitudes to live on the east coast.

    Personally I see altitude training as much as a cheat as picking the right diet. Knowledge is part of making champion - it's not just brawn. The whole concept of trianing is "cheating" - I mean no one naturally runs 5 min miles for 26.2 miles. But those who have the natural ability AND the knowledge will be able to train to do so.

    So where is the line? In my book the line is with supplements. If you can't produce the energy or hormones you need to compete naturally form redily available foods and environment - then you're a cheat.

    Is this acceptable? It depends on whether you're an athlete or an entertainer. If you are in the NBA, NFL, NBL, etc - then you are an entertainer - drug up, juice up, do what you need to do to get paid.

    If you are an olympian, going for world records, or the like - then you're an athlete and your resources should be much more limited.


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