Diuretics: In the news

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 1:57 pm

Boosting: the anti-diuretic
The Paralympics are also not immune to cases of doping. The IPC, the International Paralympic Committee that oversees the event, uses the same list of banned substances as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In fact, two powerlifters tested positive for diuretics in out-of-competition tests before the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, and were banned from those games. However, depending on their medical needs, disabled athletes may successfully apply to therapeutically use certain listed drugs, including diuretics.
A type of doping that is unique to the Paralympics is a practice known as boosting. Boosting is the act of deliberating triggering autonomic dysreflexia, a “fight or flight” reaction that occurs in individuals with spinal cord injuries and is characterized by a rise in blood pressure. How is it achieved? Athletes block their catheters so that their bladders overfill and distend. The pain nerve impulses can’t reach the brain, and over-stimulate the autonomic nervous system instead. As a result, the blood vessels dilate and the pressure rises. The brain is unable to regulate blood pressure below the level of the injury, so autonomic dysreflexia results. A “boost” is estimated to improve performance by as much as 15%, but the practice is extremely dangerous to an athlete’s health.
In addition to blocking catheter flow, some athletes use pins, wires, tourniquets, and other irritants to achieve this response. Other signs of boosting include pale skin, sweating, gooseflesh, and tremors. The IPC Sport Science and Medical Committee has established testing procedures for boosting in an effort to end this dangerous practice.

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