An American hyperbaric chamber manufacturer -- Oxyhealth -- initiated legal action against the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) for outlawing their hyperbaric chamber.
The hyperbaric chamber drives more oxygen into the blood stream. There is no consensus whether this treatment is effective in athletic training enhancement. It seems odd that the company, which does not market the device as a performance enhancing device in sport, would care about the doping implications. One would think the company would focus on the medical uses of the chambers, rather than unproven sports performance enhancement.
In fact looking at OxyHealth's web site is is difficult to determine how exactly the chamber could be useful. Like many other gadgets, people are always trying them to find some performance edge.
The story is found at the Mainichi Daily News:
An American company that manufactures and sells high-pressure oxygen chambers, used by athletes to recover from fatigue, is poised to file a damages suit against the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) early next month for causing a sharp decline in sales, it emerged on Friday.
According to the Japanese arm of American company OxyHealth, sales of its portable hyperbaric chambers have dropped dramatically since the JADA in June expressed its view that use of the capsules should be avoided because they might artificially enhance the intake, carrying and supply of oxygen, which could be considered as doping.
OxyHealth, whose lost earnings from the previous year totaled nearly 1 billion yen, is currently bringing judicial proceedings against the JADA, its Japanese arm said.
JADA appeared to be acting as if the Oxyhealth chamber were a doping agent. The theory goes that the hyperbaric chamber stimulates an atmosphere akin to high altitude training, and thus would increase hemoglobin and oxygen carrying capacity. This would be artificial doping. However the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) maintains there is no evidence that a hyperbaric chamber is effective to enhance sports training.
After the JADA recommendation in June, Japanese athletes did not use them during the Beijing Olympics, and schools belonging to the Japan High School Baseball Federation also refrained from their use.
The advisory stands despite a statement from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in November, which said they should be permitted since there is no evidence they enhance athlete performance.
The International Healthy Baric Association Japan, an industry association based in Tokyo's Bunkyo-ku, asked the JADA to retract the advisory. However, it refused on the grounds that the WADA didn't officially decide to permit the use of the capsules, and that there will be no change in its rules for the next year.
Hyperbaric chambers are used by many famous athletes, including English soccer superstar David Beckham during the FIFA World Cup in 2002.
As opposed to an oxygen tent, or to a reduced oxygen tent, a hyperbaric chamber would increase barometric pressure on the person to theoretically increase oxygen in the blood. This would be useful for the treatment of CO2 poisoning; however no one apparently has demonstrated the usefulness for sports training.
We include two studies on hyperbaric chambers in sports training with differing conclusions as to benefit, although the parameters are different.
Here is the studys we discovered on the issue:
- 1: J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1991 Sep;31(3):362-6.
Effect of hyperbaric oxygenation on maximal aerobic performance in a normobaric environment.
Faculty of Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Yugoslavia.
Eighteen female physical education students, randomly divided into three groups, inhaled 100% O2 for 60 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber. Pressure in the chamber amounted to 2.8 ATA. Three days before the hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO) all the students were subjected to a treadmill test. The first group was retested after 30 minutes, the second after 3 hours and the third 6 hours after the HBO. The first and the second groups of subjects achieved statistically significant maximal oxygen consumption after the HBO (14.4 and 10% respectively) and were capable of sustaining considerably higher exertion on treadmill (12.8%, namely 18.1%, both values were significant on the level of p less than 0.05). The ventilation efficiency parameters (VEO2 and R) did not differ with any of the three groups of subject during the exertion before and after the HBO, although after the HBO the exertion was considerably higher.
- 1: Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003 Jan;88(4-5):396-403. Epub 2002 Nov 9.
The effect of intermittent training in hypobaric hypoxia on sea-level exercise: a cross-over study in humans.
Royal Netherlands Air Force, Centre for Man and Aviation, Aerospace Physiology Department, Soesterberg, The Netherlands.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of intermittent training in a hypobaric chamber on physical exercise at sea level. Over a 10 day period, 16 male triathletes trained for 2 h each day on a cycle ergometer placed in a hypobaric chamber. Training intensity was at 60%-70% of the heart rate reserve. There were 8 subjects who trained at a simulated altitude of 2,500 m, the other 8 trained at sea level. A year later, a cross-over study took place. Baseline measurements were made on a cycle ergometer at sea level, which included an incremental test until exhaustion and a Wingate Anaerobic Test. Altogether, 12 subjects completed the cross-over study. At 9 days after training in hypoxia, significant increases were seen in maximal power output (.W(max))(5.2%), anaerobic mean power (4.1%), and anaerobic peak power (3.8%). A non-significant increase in maximal oxygen uptake (.VO(2max)) of 1.9% was observed. At 9 days after training at sea level, no significant changes were seen in .W(max)(2.1%), .VO(2max) (2.0%), anaerobic mean power (0.2%) and anaerobic peak power (0.2%). When comparing the results of the two training regimes, the anaerobic mean power was the only variable that showed a significantly larger increase as a result of training at altitude. And, although the differences in percentage change between the two training protocols were not significant, they were substantial for as well as for anaerobic peak power. The results of this study indicate that intermittent hypobaric training can improve the anaerobic energy supplying system, and also, to a lesser extent, the aerobic system. It can be concluded that the overall results of the cross-over study showed predominantly improvements in the anaerobic metabolism at variance with the previous study of our own group, where the relative .VO(2max) and .W(max) increased by 7%.