In many cases, doping increases the amount of hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Hemoglobin is an oxygen-carrying protein in the blood. Increasing hemoglobin allows higher amounts of oxygen to reach and fuel an athlete’s muscles. This can improve stamina and performance, particularly in long-distance events, such as running and cycling.
Doping is banned by the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations and is considered to be illegal.
Types of Doping
The three most common types of blood doping are:
- Blood transfusions
- Injections of erythropoietin (EPO)
- Injections of synthetic oxygen carriers
Here are some more details about each of these types of blood doping:
Blood transfusions. In normal medical practice, patients may undergo blood transfusions to replace blood lost due to injury or surgery. Transfusions also are given to patients who suffer from low red blood cell counts caused by anemia, kidney failure, and other conditions or treatments.
Blood transfusions are used by athletes to boost performance. The main types are:
Autologous transfusion. This involves a transfusion of the athlete’s own blood, which is drawn and then stored for future use.
Homologous transfusion. In this type of transfusion, athletes use the blood of someone else with the same blood type.
EPO injections. EPO is a hormone produced by the kidney. It regulates the body’s production of red blood cells.