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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Mar 31, 2005

UK Sport question 'blood spinning'

UK Sport believe the process of 'blood spinning' being promoted by Chelsea doctor Bryan English raises many questions which could lead to it being declared an illegal procedure.

The World Anti-Doping Agency are currently looking into the technique, one English has offered to Arjen Robben and Robert Huth to cure their injuries, only for both to decline, although it will remain an option for other players.

The 'cure' - more scientifically known as infiltration - involves taking a sample of an athlete's blood, removing the platelets - the cells that assist the healing process - and then injecting them back into an injured area, so speeding up recovery.

What is banned is 'blood doping' where the red blood cells are segregated, stored and then infused back into an athlete immediately prior to an event to boost oxygen levels.

English can seem no harm in the 'infiltration' procedure, yet because of the lack of scientific information and data on the process, it has come to the attention of WADA.

WADA media relations manager Frederic Donze confirmed: 'We are looking into this method, which is a particularly comprehensive process, as we would any other that may be used by athletes.

'I have spoken to our scientific people and they are trying to gather as much scientific information on this to see if there is sufficient evidence for it to be included on our prohibitive list.'

That evidence will be put forward to the List Committee - the arm that determines which substances and methods should be banned - who in turn pass on their findings to the Health and Medical Research Committee before final ratification by the Executive Committee.

UK Sport have already been in contact with WADA and a spokesman said: 'As far as we are concerned, it's an almost unknown, untried technique.

'To quote WADA's scientific director, he says there is no scientific data in any review literature.

'They have found a couple of articles which does not recommend the use of it due to the current lack of information.

'The problem is there are too many unanswered questions: `How is the blood removed? How long is it removed for? What happens to the blood once it is removed? What security measures are taken to ensure the blood is not tampered with?'

'These are the issues WADA are looking into and they are hoping by April 21, at the next meeting of their List Committee, to have some answers and to discuss whether or not it should be on their banned list.'

Scott Shea, a biologist and managing director of Harvest Technologies, an American-based company whose slogan is 'developing technologies for accelerating healing, naturally' feels once WADA have all the information, they will appreciate the procedure's benefits.

Shea, who confirmed a number of athletes have used, and are using products developed by Harvest to assist in their speedy return from injury, said: 'It is an up-and-coming treatment for people with hamstring, tendon and cartilage problems.

'As far as I am aware, it has so far proven not to come under any doping restrictions.

'I can understand the questions raised, and they are all legitimate ones, but as yet I do not think they understand the process, which is used only on injured tissue.

'An injection of what we call prp, platelet-rich plasma, is made into the injured area, forcing the body to recognise there is an injury.

'The patient's own stem cells (a repair system for the body) then race to the site of the injury, so helping it heal much more quickly. There is no risk or danger.'

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