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Self-mutilation, exaggeration dog Paralympics

Rio de Jenairo, [email protected]

Breaking a big toe voluntarily, injuring already damaged limbs in order to stimulate blood pressure …self-mutilation or `boosting` is a unique and sinister challenge for the organisers of the Paralympics to confront.

An even more delicate matter is charges that some Paralympians have exaggerated how handicapped they are so they can have an easier category at the quadrennial sporting showpiece in Rio from Wednesday until September 18.

`Boosting` is the preferred method of those with spinal injuries for aside from paralysis and loss of feeling in their limbs they suffer often equally from problems associated with blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm.

As a result when they are in the midst of competition their heart rate does not increase to the level required by the demands generated by their body. Bad performances emanate from a fatigue linked to lack of very low blood pressure amd a lack of stamina.

Certain athletes resort to drastic measures to improve their performances, self mutilating their already damaged limbs, the advantage being they do not feel the pain as the nerves are dead.

This increases the level of blood pressure, improving the flow of blood to the muscles and logically the end result are better performances. Some go to extreme lengths using electric shocks, explicitly wearing far too tight shorts to up the blood pressure in the lower limbs, twisting their testicles…the horror stories are never-ending.

The findings of a study undertaken a few years ago by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) makes frightening reading.

“Despite being conscious of the dangers to their health, 16.7 per cent of the participants in the study indicated they had resorted to boosting either in training or in competition,” read the report with regard to the statistics of 2008 and 2009. – AFP

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