I discussed the findings of Bicarbonate Loading in my monthly newsletter. At the time, I didn’t want this Blog to be the focus of drugs or ergogenic aids, at least not the banned and illegal ones.
It comes down to the ethical question of whether or not the athlete has a competitive advantage by taking ergogenic aids. Like the advancement in technology, it has to be readily available to everyone. As well, short term and long term safety and health issues must be addressed.
The winner of an Olympic Gold medal should be the most gifted athlete who worked the hardest, stayed injury free, and had the drive and motivation to success. Sebastian Coe once said, “You have to win the genetic lottery of life”.
Luck plays a part of it, too. But it shouldn’t go to the athlete with the most money for a support staff and technological wonders, drugs or equipment.
Here is a great read from Medical News Today:
Soda Doping Raises Ethical Issues As Performance-Enhancing Aid
Although a researcher has found considerable evidence that ingestion of baking soda prior to an event heightens performance, he believes the method should be banned as an ergogenic aid.
Ronald W. Deitrick, Ph.D., FACSM, presented his findings at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), held in Indianapolis. In his study, nine competitive 800-meter runners were given either a placebo or sodium bicarbonate capsule, both tasteless, washed down with 500 milliliters of a mixed-water beverage. Some test subjects did not benefit at all from taking the soda capsules, but Deitrick says enough did to make it an appealing way for middle distance runners to load before an event.
“If you took out the participants that experienced negative side effects from the soda capsules, such as gastrointestinal discomfort, you’d see an average improvement in running times of about 2.2 seconds,” Deitrick said. “For a relatively short running distance, that’s very significant.”
A pre-study performed by Deitrick showed that sodium bicarbonate should be taken approximately an hour and a half prior to competition to be most effective, and that most athletes take around 20 grams of the substance.
Deitrick says that the gastrointestinal side effects of soda doping are typically not severe, with diarrhea being the worst symptom. But because certain runners experienced no side effects and a significant improvement in race times, he believes sodium bicarbonate should be treated like certain other aids, such as creatine, and shouldn’t have a place in competition.
“It comes down to the question of whether or not the athlete has a competitive advantage by taking the aid,” Deitrick said. “And in this case, I believe the answer is yes. I think it violates the spirit of fair play by artificially enhancing performance.”
Deitrick says that soda doping cannot be compared to carbohydrate loading prior to competition, because carbs can be naturally found in many foods. Sodium bicarbonate, however, isn’t typically eaten. He says soda loading probably hasn’t been banned from competition yet because it hasn’t been studied enough using field-based performance studies or as much as other ergogenic aids.
ACSM has long been a proponent of prohibiting any substance that may unfairly enhance performance in athletes. In mid-2007, the organization v to encourage integrity and stringent anti-doping standards in sports.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.