- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided last month not to include artificially induced hypoxic conditions to the 2007 list of prohibited substances and other training aids.

So what are artificially induced hypoxic conditions?

They’re altitude tents that simulate oxygen conditions one would experience high up in the mountains. Many athletes have discovered improved performance from living in oxygen-reduced air while training at sea level. Live low, train high. Traditionally, these athletes traveled to, or lived at, high elevations to gain such training benefits.

WADA said it “had been asked by its stakeholders to lead the process for consideration of hypoxic conditions, and consequently, WADA’s scientific committees (Health, Medical and Research, and List Committees) and Ethical Issues Review Panel engaged in an extensive examination of the scientifically published literature and opinions from internal and external experts. The Committees found that the method was performance enhancing, raised some concerns but was inconclusive about the method’s threat to athlete health, and determined that the method was contrary to the spirit of sport. A substance or method may, but is not required to, be added to the Prohibited List if it meets two of these three criteria.”

WADA president Dick Pound said: “We are pleased with the progress of the discussion surrounding artificially induced hypoxic conditions. In response to our stakeholders who requested that there be full consideration of hypoxic conditions in the context of the Prohibited List, WADA performed a scientific and ethical review of the matter, and engaged in a thorough consultation with experts and stakeholders. While we do not deem this method appropriate for inclusion on the List at this time, we still wish to express the concern that, in addition to the results varying individually from case to case, use of this method may pose health risks if not properly implemented and under medical supervision.”

While WADA was contemplating the fate of altitude tents, it also proposed a 3 percent rise in its 2007 budget, to a total of $23 million. WADA said it will commit $5.4 million to scientific research in 2006.

Since 2001, the agency said, it has committed about $27 million to scientific research targeted at identifying and detecting doping substances and methods, and some examples of outcomes include the development and validation of a detection method for haemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOCs) and the demonstration of the masking properties of finasteride.

It would be interesting to know how much more money is spent at labs like BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) on evading WADA’s radar.

Locals on the run — Chris Banks and Chris Graff hope to post Olympic trials qualifiers at today’s Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis. Banks, from Springfield, was a 2004 Olympic marathon trials qualifier and already has a “B” standard 2:21:44. Graff, from Arlington, won the Army Ten Miler last year as well as the USA 10-Mile Championships in 2003. A sub-2:22 brings an invite.

Also looking to qualify with a sub-2:47 will be former area standout Heather Hanscom, who was sixth in the 2004 Olympic marathon trials. She has been in Eugene, Ore., training with two-time Olympian Marla Runyan, who is favored to win the Twin Cities Marathon.

Next week, Michael Wardian of Arlington will give it a shot at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pa. He also made the trials in 2004.

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