One such illegal method is that of blood doping. It is the term used to describe methods that increase the body's red blood cell count. The main methods used are blood transfusions; using either an athlete's own blood, or someone with the same blood type, injecting artificial oxygen carriers or the use erythropoietin (EPO) injections. EPO is a hormone produced in the kidney that regulates blood cell production. Therefore if you increase the amount of EPO in the body, it will consequently increase the blood cell production.
What then is the benefit of increasing your red blood cell count that makes it so desirable to athletes that they'll risk it all? Firstly it is important to know that your red blood cells are the transportation mechanism through which oxygen is carried around the body. Through increasing the red blood cells, you're increasing the amount of oxygen that can be carried through the body as well. Oxygen plays an important role in the way energy is utilised during physical activity. The more oxygen available to the muscles, the more efficiently the body can work and recover, and therefore the better the individual's overall physical performance.
While countless athletes have been tested positive for using it, Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong has had heavy accusations held against him concerning the matter but none of which have been based on any physical evidence. This has been a long ongoing process where Lance has had to repeatedly fight off the charges made against him. He has recently announced that he won't fight them anymore, having had enough of all the accusations put against him despite the hundreds of blood tests he has passed. Although there is still no proof whether or not he has ever used this illegal method, Lance now faces the risk that he may be stripped of his seven titles regardless, due to his refusal to keep fighting the allegations.
So what is it about blood doping that has turned this into such a big issue in sport? Blood doping presents a manner in which athletes can improve their physical performance significantly and inconspicuously. It is however an unnatural procedure, and can pose dangerous threats to the body if not monitored closely.
Athletes are not only putting their sporting careers on the line through using this method, but also their health! An increase in the number of blood cells increases the blood's viscosity, which can cause blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. It can also cause damage to the kidneys.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says: "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God." Thus we should glorify God not only in our achievements, but also in the methods we use to attain them. Violating the rules and using illegal methods therefore disobeys the authority put above us, and also places our health, a gift from God, at risk – two factors which point towards wanting to achieve personal glory, rather than glorifying Him.