From RoadBikeRider Newsletter: RoadBikeRider.com Newsletter
Issue No. 245 - 05/18/06
'Pro roadie Francisco Mancebo admits to sleeping in an altitude tent to boost his red cell count, thereby increasing his endurance by improving his blood's ability to transport oxygen. He's certainly not the only pro (or amateur) using this legal form of blood enrichment.
The Spaniard, 29, was fourth in the 2005 Tour de France. He figures the $9,000 he spent on his "hypoxic environment chamber" might just get him onto the podium this year. He says his hematocrit level rose from 46% to 47.8% after just one week of sleeping at the equivalent of 14,000 feet above sea level. Hematocrit is the percentage of blood that consists of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
If a racer's hematocrit tests at 50% or more, he or she is banned from competition. An overly high hematocrit level is associated with the use of the drug EPO, grounds for suspension in cycling.
[B]Now comes news that in September, altitude tents might be outlawed too. That's when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says it will make a ruling on their legality."[/B]
Why?!?! It's natural and not a drug!! What the heck is that for? Here is what "The Dick" Pound says,
Explains WADA president Dick Pound, "Our medical authorities agree that the creation of [high altitude] can be performance enhancing. Our ethics and education committee has concluded that the use of these devices is probably contrary to the spirit of sport, and it will be up to the executive committee to decide how it wants to proceed." And how to enforce a ban if it's instituted.
Hey, I'm with the boys at RoadBikeRider "We're with Mancebo on this one. Altitude tents aren't like drugs. In fact, by encouraging the body's natural reaction to high altitude -- a training method used for decades -- they make the risky use of EPO unnecessary."