MONTREAL (AP) - The World Anti-Doping Agency held off on banning the use of hypoxic chambers, but asked that studies look further into health implications.
Hypoxic or hyperbaric tents and chambers are used by many athletes to replicate high-altitude conditions and boost levels of oxygen-rich red blood cells.
WADA's ethics committee ruled Saturday that the chambers enhance performance and violate "the spirit of sport," but the executive committee refrained from adding them to their list of prohibited substances and methods for 2007 during its meeting Saturday.
"It doesn't mean we approve it," WADA head and Canadian IOC delegate Dick Pound said.
He noted that with the current information available, putting it on the list was not warranted.
"Some people under some conditions, yes, you can obtain some performance-enhancing effect, but not in all," Pound said. "We are however concerned that there may be some potential danger of a medical nature."
WADA said it asked the IOC medical commission to look into the issue of health effects.
WADA's Scientific director, Olivier Rabin, said that side-effects of using the chambers could include altitude-sickness as well as sleep disturbance and could affect the response of the immune system.
Pound also called "tremendously encouraging" the decision by former members of Lance Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service cycling team to come forward and admit that they used the performance-enhancing drug EPO to prepare for the Tour de France in'99.
Pound praised that such personal initiatives by athletes could help the fight against doping in sport.
"I hope it continues and we certainly encourage it," he said.
On Thursday Pound said he had full confidence in doping tests for EPO, which produced an initial positive finding for U.S. sprinter Marion Jones but came back negative in the backup sample.
Pound said WADA would look into all the documents in the Jones' case to determine if there were any mistakes after it asked the Los Angeles laboratory that analysed her samples to provide them. It considers this process "standard procedure when samples don't match."
Pound also regretted that it was "taking more time than we would like" for countries to ratify the UNESCO convention on doping. Only 17 countries have ratified the treaty so far; at least 30 are required for adoption.
WADA said it would commit US$5.4 million this year to scientific research that aims to identify and detect doping substances and methods, bringing the total amount of research since 2001 to $27 million.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2006 $sourceSection$sourcePage