Reparations Within Blood Doping
Estimates of the prevalence of blood doping range from 1% to 48%, it all depends on which sport is being analyzed for drug use. Each year athlete’s abilities to perform and exceed beyond previous years seems to increase. Enhanced training methods, conditioning techniques, and better overall health of the athletes can contribute to this increased ability. However, “some athletes always seem to take it a step further. They engage in a process called blood doping” (Bryner 2). Blood doping, also called induced erythrocythemia, is an intravenous infusion of blood that increases an athlete’s ability. Athletes attempting to gain a physical advantage often turn to blood doping to increase physical performance; however, it may potentially feel as if it is a form of repair but in reality it can damage the body in the long run.
With one injection your abilities are on cloud nine, the five minutes to transform your whole body, lead to hours of energy and victory. Is that victory one that should be granted for, or just another memorabilia on the shelf? Athletes around the world have a craze to win big or die trying, and they will do anything to get on top and become the alpha. First it started with the use of Anabolic steroids, a group of synthetic hormones, usually derived from testosterone. They are consumed as they aid in protein synthesis, and muscle mass. This wasn’t enough as it was high on the radar for leagues; all it took was a blood sample to find out if you were using the drug. Later Blood Doping arrived, an act of injecting oxygenated blood into an athlete before an event in an attempt to enhance athletic performance. The procedure begins as “Athletes have their own blood withdrawn, preferably when their hemoglobin level is high, stored and then re-infused before a competition” (Schwartz 1). The hormone gets released by the kidneys and causes the body’s bone marrow to pump out red blood cells. Red blood cells shuttle oxygen through a person’s blood, so any boost in their numbers can improve the amount of oxygen the blood can carry to the body’s muscles. The end result is more endurance. “Blood doping reduces fatigue by increasing the supply of oxygen to the exercising muscles” (Bryner 1).
Spelman has her thoughts on our justice system, she feels that restorative justice can make the system fairer. She believes that if you punish someone by simply giving them time in a prison for several years, it won’t change the criminal they still will be the same person if they come out.
Punishment is aimed not at repairing the harm offenders did to the victims and the community. Punishment seems geared to trying to break offenders and to rupture their connection to the larger society not just by putting up all manner of physical, social, and emotional barriers, but by making offenders think that the only consequence of their acts they need to think about are the punitive consequences for themselves (Spelman 56).
The same goes for the boards of each professional sports association, if a biker ends up blood doping and gets caught he will be punished. That punishment can consist of: suspension, paying some sort of fee, or even loss of titles. Is giving an athlete a fee to pay off his or hers wrongs really going to change them? They will just pay the fee and go on with their life, they didn’t get punished for their crime, anyone would use money to get out of their predicament. The justice system and the boards of these professional sports both coincide with each other. Spleman’s thoughts on the particular topic would simply be the act of punishment, if you give someone the right kind of punishment they will actually learn to not commit a crime again or cheat for a sporting event. The fact that athletes use enhancements to change their bodies reactions, almost counter reacts Spleman’s thoughts on repair. Throughout the sports industry players decide to portray an act of some sort, they want the illusion of having everything look okay on the exterior while the inner is pumped with fresh blood to help them perform better on the field. It’s as if Fred had a car in his shop and he decides to keep the exterior of the car the same form it was when it was first built, but he decides to cheat himself and change the interior so that it performs better than usual.
The procedure to blood dope generally begins several weeks before an athlete’s key competition. During this time 1 to 4 units of the athlete’s blood is withdrawn (1 unit is roughly 1 pint). “The blood is then centrifuged and the plasma components are immediately rein fused while the remaining red blood cells are placed in cold storage” (Lundby, eta 5). The units of blood are now considered to be packed RBC’s (Red Blood Cells) they can be either refrigerated at 4 degrees C or frozen at 80 degrees C. “Today scientist prefer the freezing method because freezing completely halts the aging process of the cells” (Schwartz 6). When freezing blood, the pouches can be stored up to 10 years with only 10% to 15% red blood cell loss. Anyone who cheats wants to find a way to not get caught, there for the act of blood doping isn’t as vulnerable to detect as using steroids. “No test exists to detect when an athlete has used autologous blood transfusions, according to Dr. Michael Ashenden, one of the world’s top blood doping experts who played a key role in the Armstrong case” (Schwartz 4). Suspicion lures as an athlete achieves the unknown, many of the cases with blood doping in a sporting event were revealed after a group of scientists feel that it’s almost impossible for someone to perform at such a high level. Thus came along the Armstrong case. Judge gives Lance Armstrong partial win in $100 million lawsuit(Video on Armstrong Case).“Anyone who emerges from a bout with cancer to make a record-obliterating run on one of the world’s premier sporting events is sure to draw skepticism” (Lundby, eta 9). Throughout Spelman’s book she talked about human repair, “Across the human landscape, some kind of repair or restoration or mending or rehabilitating or reconciling is bound to be going on or at least is being considered even if in the end rejected” (Spelman 26). As humans we tend to strive for success and get to the top as fast and as easy as possible. Some don’t want to work as hard as others and actually earn that success, they are fine with the job being half finished as long as the end product is working. Spelman talks about Willie, a repairman that is willing to use any parts on a car as long as that car leaves his shop working. He doesn’t care about the appearance or the authenticity of the car, as long as the car is running on four wheels he’s content. “In Willie’s shop there is very little routine repair: standard responses to standard failures or damages are not the order of the day” (Pg 10). Willie tends to get the repairs that have engine failure, he gets the people that want a quick fix so they can get back on the road running. Just like an athlete on the field that wants to boost their athletic skills they lead towards blood doping, it’s a quick and easy way for them to get back on the field and win games. Is that really a victory worth recognizing, or is it just another statistic added onto the books? Athletes tend to lean towards blood doping for a reason, they have talent and the ability to succeed, but due to age and the lack of motivation they find an easy way out.
The recent revelations by the Dutch newspaper De Volksrant concerning the PDM team's doping regime at the 1988 Tour de…www.cyclingnews.com
The first use of blood doping was revealed in the military, 24 hours before a mission or battle a small amount of red blood cells would be infused back into the soldier. Military scientists believe that the procedure increases the soldier’s endurance and alertness because of the increase in the blood’s capability to carry oxygen. After the U.S attempts to use this process to fortify their soldier’s other countries began to look into it as well. “Historically speaking, the origins of doping in sports go back to the very creation of sport itself, from ancient usage of substances in chariot racing to more recent controversies in baseball and cycling” (Bryner 5). Athletes are beginning to tamper with their abilities to perform at a much higher level, many in which succeed but their attempts lead to getting caught by the league director’s years later. The reason being that people become suspicious about how someone can achieve such a brutal task, then all the questions come in. Later on that athlete would have to perform certain tests, then a blood sample can be taken. That blood sample can detect doping usage that occurred over 2 years ago.
When an athlete injects themselves with their own blood that has been stored in an isolated chamber, it fuels their bodies like gas fuels the engine of a car. We as spectators don’t see a difference on the exterior, the athlete looks the same. We do however tend to see their abilities on the field, the athlete has more stability and is able to work more without getting exhausted in the long run. Spelman talks throughout chapter three about The Household as Repair Shop, she states “The body has an awesome capacity to repair itself in ways that are to the ordinary observer both visible: the healing of a cut and invisible: the continual self-repair of DNA, or the recently discovered capacity of the human heart to repair itself” (Pg 33). This goes the same for people using blood doping to repair their bodies and preform at a new and improved level. Spelman talks about how our body needs a way to feel reparations when damaged, if we are feeling sick we need medications or comfort foods to help us feel better.
Even though we might think of the feeding and watering of human beings as simple maintenance, rather than repair, such maintenance is necessary for the self-repair of the body. And that bodily repair is helped along by the knowledgeable household creation and use of salves and medicines (Spelman 33).
Our body is always fighting and making sure that everything is working and running perfectly. As we age our bodies tend to lack in performance, we are unable to run or move around as quick as before. When athletes feel that they are getting weaker they lean to the faster method to recover and be energized on the field. Spelman has a point when she talks about our body needing an outside source to help us repair what’s damaged, but that doesn’t mean the outside source should be injecting oxygenated blood into our body, the outside source she’s talking about deals with proper repair, a repair that can make someone feel good about themselves afterwards.
Although all the fame and fortune is at a high, with one snap someone could be side tracked and everything comes crashing down. It may seem great to change your bodies abilities, but there are many side effects that can linger. “raising one’s hematocrit beyond physiologically normal levels leads to an increase in blood viscosity and myocardial infarction risk” (Lundby, eta 10). The body can only take enough to the point where it starts to tumble downhill. Since the blood is being stored for a period of time there’s a chance for it to become thick, thus causing the body to fail. Some athletes go as far as using someone else’s blood, it’s called the homologous method, using this method only leads to ejection if the blood type isn’t an exact match. The reason for someone to use another’s blood is because certain athlete’s bodies can produce more oxygen than others. The bodies won’t just react on the inside but on the outside as well athletes could go into shock, which leads to a fever for weeks. The cons weight out the pros, but anyone dispirit enough to win championships and medals will try anything to get that exposer. The athlete might believe that they are doing good, but in reality they are cheating not only the system but themselves. Within hours of the actual injection of blood the body begins to produce more red blood cells, which leads to greater oxygen deposit. This means that when someone is enduring tons of energy, instead of the body breaking down it reserves more energy.
In attempts of increasing one’s physical advantage over other players, athletes lean towards blood doping to find a way to achieve greatness. The abundance of blood doping has been on another level, athletes in major sports around the world try to do the impossible by injecting themselves with their own blood. But is this really a sense of repair or is it just a feeling of part time repair? Just like restorative justice, the boards of many athletic teams should focus on a way of repair. Punishment that can change the perspective of someone is what leads to repair.
I would like to begin by thanking my group members, Rachel, Lauren and Eyal, along with the rest of Frank’s group. They all gave their own time and reviewed my essay to make it better. I would also like to thank Professor Joe, and Frank for giving time out of their day to talk more about my piece in a meeting, they gave me complements and also constructive criticism to help me create the best final piece. Without the help of these people my essay wouldn’t be where it is now. During class we as a group, all switched papers with other students in Frank’s group, during this time my paper was edited and improved. I also had the chance to talk one on one with Professor Joe, I asked questions and he listened while also giving me his input and thoughts on my piece.
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Schwartz, Daniel. “Tricks of the Trade: How Athletes Blood Dope.” CBCnews.
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Spelman, Elizabeth V. Repair: The Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World. Boston: