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Paralympic -Athletes who harm themselves to perform better

Paralympic -Athletes who harm themselves to perform better

Would you break your own toe to win a Paralympic medal? Would you sit on a sharp object or strangulate your testicles? It's cheating, but a scientist who will be monitoring athletes at the Paralympic Games says a third of competitors with spinal injuries may be harming themselves to boost their performance.

The practice, called "boosting", is designed to increase blood pressure and enhance performance.

It's banned by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC), but some researchers say these are the desperate acts of athletes trying to compete on a level playing field.

"There have been times where I would specifically give my leg or my toe a couple of really good electric shocks" says Brad Zdanivsky, a 36-year-old Canadian quadriplegic climber who has experimented with boosting in the gym.

That would make my blood pressure jump up and I could do more weights and cycle harder - it is effective."

One British journalist with years of experience covering the Paralympics says he has heard of athletes using small hammers to crack or break a toe.

The point of these activities is to raise the athlete's blood pressure and heart rate

When able-bodied competitors engage in hard physical activities like running or swimming, blood pressure and heart rate increase automatically. Athletes with spinal injuries do not get that response. "Boosting" is a short cut to higher blood pressure and the improved performance that comes with it.

In medical terms it's defined as the deliberate induction of a dangerous condition common to quadriplegics called autonomic dysreflexia (AD). Many everyday activities that cause discomfort, even something as trivial as sunburn, can set off the condition naturally.

Zdanivsky turned to boosting when his spine was crushed in a car accident in 1994, because he didn't want the injury to curb his passion for mountain climbing.

"I tried several different ways of doing it. You can allow your bladder to fill, basically don't go to the bathroom for a few hours and let that pain from your bladder do it.

"Some people do that in sports by clipping off a catheter to let the bladder fill - that's the easiest and the most common - and you can quickly get rid of that pain stimulus by letting the urine drain out.

"I took it a notch further by using an electrical stimulus on my leg, my toe and even my testicles."

But boosting comes at a price.

"You are getting a blood pressure spike that could quite easily blow a vessel behind your eye or cause a stroke in your brain," says Zdanivsky.

Posted on 2012-08-24 02:01:22
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QUESTION?

Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

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THE DAY'S QUOTE

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews

FEEDBACK/COMMENTS

Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.

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