Is carbon monoxide doping?
Athletes who do not have access to medical technology, but still want to improve their stamina through prohibited methods, already had the hypoxiatent and cobalt doping. We knew that. But now they also have carbon monoxide. Or is that not doping?
The same stuff that kills people in homes with poorly tuned water heaters and unventilated kitchens can also improve athletes’ endurance performance.
German physiologists from the University of Bayreuth will soon publish a small but extremely interesting study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. If the coronavirus had not hit the world now, all media would report it. But now only Ergo-Log talks about the surprising German research results. Too bad.
Carbon monoxide can attach intself to hemoglobin, the iron-containing protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen. Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen from hemoglobin. Under normal circumstances, you will find complexes of hemoglobin and carbon monoxide [COHb] in the body of healthy people. The concentration of the hemoglobin-carbon monoxide complex increases with intensive exertion.
In the body COHb triggers cells produce more mitochondria and tissues to grow more small blood vessels. Hence, the researchers theorized that carbon monoxide, in small, non-hazardous doses, may have a performance-enhancing effect.
The researchers got 11 healthy and reasonably well-trained men to inhale a little carbon monoxide 5 times a day for 3 weeks. The subjects sucked 100 milliliters of carbon monoxide from a syringe – without a needle – at a time, and then held their breath for 30 seconds. This made the amount of the hemoglobin-carbon monoxide complex increase by 5 percent.
The researchers followed the subjects for 3 weeks after the administration of carbon monoxide had stopped.
A control group of 11 comparable men did not breathe carbon monoxide.
The amount of red blood cells and hemoglobin increased in the men who had received carbon monoxide.
Not surprisingly, the VO2max – still the main predictor of endurance – increased by 3 percent in the experimental group. The greater the increase in the amount of hemoglobin in the subjects, the greater the increase in VO2max.
“Chronic continuous exposure to low dose carbon monoxide increasing COHb by approximately 5% significantly increased erythropoietic activity and showed a positive effect on performance”, write the Germans.
“This procedure might therefore be used by athletes like altitude training or instead of altitude training and WADA has to discuss whether it can be accepted as a new training method or has to be banned as a new kind of blood manipulation.”
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