Why is blood transfusion considered doping?

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Why is blood transfusion considered doping?
Why is blood transfusion considered doping?

Find out why the doping committee equates blood transfusions with the strongest anabolic steroids and how the pro athletes carry out this procedure correctly. For most people, vampires are a figment of the imagination of writers. However, they actually existed. Now we are not talking about the mystical creatures described in numerous novels and shown in films. Today we will talk about blood transfusion as doping in sports.

Vampires and reality

Vampire drawing
Vampire drawing

Everyone knows that blood carries nutrients throughout the body, including oxygen. You do not need to have deep knowledge of medicine to assume that it is possible to influence the oxygen supply of the body by regulating the amount of blood. Since ancient times, different peoples have had the custom of drinking the blood of defeated enemies.

It was assumed that blood can transmit all the forces of a defeated enemy. This custom appeared for a reason and people have long noticed that drinking blood can increase the oxygen supply of the body. Today we know that this is due to the stimulation of the hematopoietic system. There has been one period in the history of medicine when blood was used as a medicine.

It was called the "period of vampirism" and ended at the beginning of the Renaissance. When the digestive system processes the drunk blood, the body receives a large amount of nutrients, including ferrous iron, hemoglobin enzymes, vitamin B12, and special stimulants of erythropoietin. They are all essential for the production of blood.

Scientists have found that not all protein compounds are broken down into amines in the digestive tract. Some of them enter the bloodstream in their original form. Scientists call them food information factors. When the body receives informational factors of the blood, the work of the hematopoietic system is enhanced. We have already said that vampires really existed.

There is one very rare and very serious blood disorder called porphyria. It is transmitted only genetically. This ailment is characterized by severe anemia, and its cause is the low rate of hemoglobin production. In severe porphyria, the hemoglobin concentration drops to an extremely low level, which leads to the development of severe anemia and subsequent dry gangrene.

In the absence of sufficient oxygen, the cellular structures of the lips and fingertips die first. As a result, teeth grin become visible, and the tips of the bones that appear on the fingers resemble claws. Patients could not appear like this on the street in daylight. In addition, solar ultraviolet light accelerated the course of the disease.

Sometimes they committed murder under cover of night in order to drink blood and thereby alleviate their condition. Modern medicine has new methods of treatment and the ability to transfuse blood. After that, the vampires left our lives, as well as the custom of drinking the blood of defeated enemies. At the same time, animal blood and products made from it are used today. You don't have to go far for examples, remember the hematogen, which children love. It is made from dried blood of cattle with the addition of milk and sugar.

Also, the blood of animals contains some medications, for example, hemostimulin. In medicine, it is used to improve the functioning of the hematopoietic system in case of anemia. People have long drawn attention to the fact that a patient may feel better with a small amount of blood loss. This information gradually accumulated, and as a result, there was a period of time in the history of mankind when they tried to treat almost any disease with the help of bloodletting.

This type of therapy was used most actively in the Middle Ages. Records of famous healers of that time have reached us, in which a detailed guide to the procedure was given. The degree of popularity of bloodletting is eloquently indicated by the fact that Louis XIII underwent this procedure 47 times in 9 months. In the course of numerous studies, it has been proven that the loss of blood in an amount of no more than 300 milliliters can alleviate the patient's condition with various ailments. Scientists explain this by the fact that after blood loss, the body experiences mild anemia and all its systems begin to work more actively.

Why might mild anemia after blood transfusion be beneficial?

Test tube with inscription
Test tube with inscription

The beneficial effect that mild bloodletting can have is attributed to several factors:

  1. The blood pressure decreases, which helps to reduce the load on the heart muscle. As a result, the risk of developing myocardial infarction and cerebral hemorrhage is reduced.
  2. A moderate form of anemia activates some of the body's defenses, for example, increased blood flow in organs, oxygen is more actively combined with hemoglobin, etc.
  3. The loss of a small amount of blood enzymes, combined with mild anemia, makes the bone marrow cells work harder. The blood at such a moment contains more substances that help accelerate the processes of hematopoiesis. About six days after the bloodletting, the hemoglobin and red cell levels are fully restored.

Today, bloodletting therapy is used in medicine in extremely rare situations. It should be noted that attempts at blood transfusion were undertaken as early as the Middle Ages. Moreover, for the procedure, the blood of animals was often used. It is quite obvious that such procedures were often fatal. Only after a few discoveries, in particular blood type and Rh factor, blood transfusion became safe.

Blood transfusion as doping in sports: features of the procedure

The doctor prepares the blood transfusion procedure
The doctor prepares the blood transfusion procedure

So we come to the answer to the main question of our article. However, before talking about blood transfusion as doping in sports, it is necessary to recall those blood components that are capable of delivering oxygen to the tissues of our body:

  1. Erythrocyte mass - a concentrate of red cells that have been extracted from blood plasma. With its transfusion, there are significantly fewer complications in comparison with ordinary blood.
  2. Erythrocyte suspension - is an erythrocyte mass suspended in suspension. After its transfusion, complications are extremely rare.
  3. Washed erythrocytes - erythrocyte mass, purified from plasma residues using saline.
  4. Frozen red blood cells - before the introduction, the crane bodies are thawed again, and in terms of the number of possible side effects, this component is much better than all the forms described above.

Scientists have been trying for a long time to use blood transfusion to strengthen the body. However, then they were discontinued, since the blood of different people has serious differences, even if it is of the same group. It was decided to try to infuse blood that had previously been drawn from the patient himself. At the moment, the procedure has been perfected and is most often used in operations. Six days before the start of the operation, about 300 milliliters of blood is taken from the patient and preserved. During surgery, it is again infused to compensate for blood loss.

Also, this procedure can be used in sports. Under the influence of strong physical exertion, the so-called oxygen debt arises in the body. Blood transfusion can be used to eliminate it. Now the results shown by athletes have reached the border when not only the body is working to the limit of its capabilities, but also pharmacology.

Ten days before the start of the competition, 400 milliliters of blood is taken from the athlete and canned. As a result, a slight anemia is observed in the athlete's body, the amount of blood is restored with a small margin. In addition, all body systems begin to work more actively. If you store blood for ten days, then special substances with biostimulating properties appear in it. If it is then poured in during competition, then aerobic performance increases dramatically.

The use of blood transfusion as a doping in sport provides ample opportunities. This applies not only to athletes, but to those people who must be highly resistant to oxygen deficiency, for example, climbers or divers. Nowadays, very interesting methods have been created for multiple transfusions of small doses of their own blood at intervals of three or four days.

This makes it possible to improve the condition of critically ill patients. Scientists continue to work in this direction and the research results are very encouraging. At the moment, sports are actively using erythropoietin, which can stimulate the processes of hematopoiesis.

By the decision of the IOC, outhemotransfusion is classified as doping and cannot be used by athletes. Many sports medicine professionals disagree with this decision. One of the arguments in defense of the ban on the use of blood transfusion as doping in sports is the presence of side effects in preservatives (used to store blood). However, sodium citrate (which is the most common blood preservative) is more biostimulating than toxic.

However, it is useless to argue now on this topic, because the IOC has already made its decision and probably will not revise it. Scientists have now come to grips with the search for artificial blood substitutes that can improve the process of transporting oxygen to tissues. When they are created, many lives can be saved. There is no doubt that they will begin to be actively used by athletes as well, until they fall into the list of prohibited types of pharmacology.

At the moment, the role of such blood substitutes is most often a solution of polarized hemoglobin, which contains a large number of crane bodies. Also used are artificial microbodies (liposomes), purified hemoglobin of cattle and even a completely synthetic component - perfluorocarbohydrates. However, all of these substitutes do not do their job well enough, and some of them may even be toxic. At the same time, scientists are confident that humanity is on the verge of discovering such blood substitutes that will be completely analogous to blood and even surpass it in some parameters. Of course, it will take time and there is no need to expect a major breakthrough in the near future. But such a discovery will help many people avoid premature death and help athletes improve their performance. You just need to be patient and wait.

For more details on how blood transfusion affects the athlete's body, see the video below: