Platelet Rich Plasma? Try Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) Surgery

With all the news and hype aimed towards Tiger Woods, we discovered he has tried Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) because the Canadian doctor that administered it was caught distributing Actovegin,

Actovegin is on the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances, and made from bovine blood cells.

Now, there is NO PROOF Tiger obtained or administered Actovegin from Dr. Tony Galea but we’ll save that speculation up to you, the readers. This same doctor also treated Donovan Bailey and Dana Torres.

Platelet Rich Plasma is extremely popular for professional athletes who can afford the trip to Canada and pay for the procedure.  The procedure is available in the USA as well and costs between $1000 and $1500.

If you followed Dana Torres, or if you watched the CBS morning show this week, you know Dana underwent ACI or Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation surgery… yet another case of a professional athlete (with unlimited financial resources) being able to afford costly medical procedures.

This procedure is not cheap… $60,000 USD and aimed directly at people with deteriorating cartilage in the knees.  Too bad eating shark fin soup isn’t a cure!  I’d eat a bowl every night, but the PETA activist would probably be knocking on my door.

This “grow your own body parts” seems like a scene from a Cyborg movie.  Remember Sam Raimi’s movie Darkman as he tries to cultivate his own skin cells?

ACI surgery consists of 10,000 healthy cells surgically removed from your knee (or what’s left on them), then the cells are sent to a lab and cultivated until it reaches approximately 50 million cells, and finally re-injected back into the body several weeks later.

Like all surgical procedures, the biggest setback is the invasiveness of the surgery itself, however more arthroscopic and less invasive procedures are becoming available.

Drawing the Line – Or is it Shades of Gray?

We really have to draw the line when it comes to treating healing modalities.

Is blood doping ethical?  Would the answer would be NO if the athlete had anaemia to begin with and the blood doping made him or her back to “normal” levels?

How about Platelet Rich Plasma? 

How about Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation?

How about Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT), a method to boost your natural red blood cells, instead of using EPO?  (also on the banned list of prohibited substances)

How about drugs or gene therapy that block myostatin?  Myostatin is responsible for breaking down your muscle tissue.  Without the catabolic effects of muscles from myostatin, one could really develop incredible muscle mass!

I am sure the IAAF and the WADA are having a field day discussing this, but first they have to settle the Caster Semenya incident.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee