Saturday, 25 August 2012

Paralympics 2012: athletes warned about the dangers of self-harming

The 300 members of ParalympicsGB have been warned about the dangers of ''boosting'', an illegal practice of hurting themselves to create an adrenalin rush to enhance performance at the Paralympic Games.

''It is like doping and some people are prepared to (do it to) cheat,'' said the ParalympicsGB chef de mission Craig Hunter of the practice which involves extreme measures such as strangling their own testicles, breaking bones, stimulating muscles with electric shocks or blocking catheters.

''We run an education programme for athletes and our athletes are fully aware we do not encourage boosting in any way shape or form.''

The resulting pain from self-inflicted injuries boosts blood pressure, heart rate and adrenalin levels in athletes with spinal cord damage much the same way as doping practices, says Hunter.

The International Paralympic Committee has been aware of the practice – technically called induced autonomic dysreflexia – for nearly 20 years and have introduced blood pressure tests in the warm up areas before competition to try and stamp out the practice.

Officials say they will withdraw anyone right up to the moment of competition at the London Paralympics if they believe their blood pressure is at dangerous levels. Extreme blood pressure could induce a heart attack or stroke.

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