IPC to test athletes over 'boosting'
Athletes at the London 2012 Paralympics will be tested for 'boosting', the IPC has confirmed
The International Paralympic Committee will test athletes to ensure the practice of 'boosting' blood pressure ahead of competition to enhance performance does not happen at the London 2012 Paralympics.
'Boosting', referred to medically as induced autonomic dysreflexia, has been used by athletes with spinal cord injuries. By inflicting pain below the spinal injury athletes are able to increase their heart rate which in turn increases the amount of oxygen to the muscles.
Athletics and handbiking are two sports where the practice would provide a clear advantage.
Raised blood pressure can cause a heart attack or a stroke and the practice was banned by the IPC in 2004. Tests were run in Beijing to ensure athletes were not using 'boosting'.
IPC director of communications Craig Spence told Press Association Sport: "We know which sports are most at risk of 'boosting' and will be testing their blood pressure prior to competition.
"If their blood pressure is high they will be asked to rest for a while before we test them again. If it is still high and they can't justify why it is on medical grounds we can tell them they cannot compete on health grounds.
"High blood pressure can occur naturally and those athletes who are prone to high blood pressure will have a form from their GP that they can produce.
"To put this in perspective there were 3,951 athletes in Beijing and only 37 were at risk of boosting. We tested them and none of them were. There will be 4,200 athletes here in London. We don't know yet how many of them will be at risk of 'boosting' but it will be less than a hundred who will be tested."
Paralympics GB chef de mission Craig Hunter, when asked about 'boosting' in a pre-Games press conference on Thursday, said: "We have an educational programme with our athletes across all aspects of their preparation.
"They are all fully aware that we do not encourage boosting in any shape or form. We note that there will be monitoring going on during the Games - that will be the responsibility of the IPC - and we are not aware that we have anyone doing this on our team."
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