Friday, 24 August 2012
Paralympics - Deadly Hidden Harm
The Greek hero Achilles was given a choice. Go to the battle of Troy, win great victories and have his fame live forever or stay at home, live in anonymity and have his name be forgotten. That same choice is being made here and now as London gears up for the 2012 Paralympics.
News agencies are reporting a cheating scandal far more drastic than the doping of regular olympic athletes.
Known as 'Boosting', Paralympians with spinal injuries are causing stress to their bodies which increases the heart rate and blood pressure because this can enhance their performance, giving them a greater edge over other competitors. Those who have spinal injuries may have difficulties raising their blood pressure and heart rate naturally with physical activity, so in order for them to maximise their performance they practice Boosting, which was banned in 1994.
These same paralympians would go as far as to break bones in their feet, strangle their testicles, electrocute their scrotum (Yikes!), legs and/or feet, or sit on pins and use tight leg straps.
These are only some of the techniques which have come to the attention of the authorities and it is likely there are more that have not yet come to light. It should be noted, however, that due to their condition, they are insensitive to the pain this would cause.
Boosting can lead to heart attacks, strokes, hypothermia, epilepsy, hypertension and and you could end up bursting blood vessels. All of this to win a medal? Good grief.
Nevertheless, all this raises some questions.
Would you live a mediocre life of everyday struggles and pleasures if you had the chance of immortal glory? Wouldn't it be worth the risk of throwing in all away for that? Just imagine you name in lights forever!
Is Boosting really cheating? Aren't they just manipulating their own bodies to achieve its full potential?
How about Boxing, Formula One and Free Diving, recognized sports which have cost people their lives? Why can't paralympians have the same right to decide for themselves what risks they wish to take in their pursuit of excellence?
Not everyone will have the chance to go for olympic gold in this way, but is there anything that you would consider risking your health for? Isn't this what firemen, police and soldiers etc. do everyday?
Whatever your views, I would love to hear them.