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Paralympic athletes harm themselves to perform better


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Would you break your own toe to win a Paralympic medal? Would you sit on a sharp object or strangulate your testicles? It's cheating, but a scientist who will be monitoring athletes at the Paralympic Games says a third of competitors with spinal injuries may be harming themselves to boost their performance.

The practice, called "boosting", is designed to increase blood pressure and enhance performance. It's banned by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC), but some researchers say these are the desperate acts of athletes trying to compete on a level playing field.

"There have been times where I would specifically give my leg or my toe a couple of really good electric shocks" says Brad Zdanivsky, a 36-year-old Canadian quadriplegic climber who has experimented with boosting in the gym.

Common boosting techniques

  • Overfilling the bladder, by clamping a catheter
  • Sitting on a drawing pin
  • Use of tight leg straps
  • Twisting and/or sitting on the scrotum
  • Cracking or breaking a bone

Competing to win is one thing, but this makes my eyes water. The article goes on to say up to 30% of paralympic athletes could use 'boosting'.


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It goes back to Vince Lombardi and his 'winning is the only thing' philosophy. I never understood that, or why it was an attitude that seemed to be lauded. It relates to an attitude that suggests 'doing your best' isn't enough if it doesn't result in your winning. High school football coaches seem to revel in the 'giving more than you can' attitude, and blame losing on the failure of their player to try hard enough.

Bullshit! Some players are better than others. But the pressure to win, regardless of the consequences, will result in what this article suggests: even hurting oneself to gain an edge in performance.


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I was watching some football coach on ESPN (college I think) who was telling his players they were not to stop playing or say they were through because they were too tired... that that was the coaches' decision. If they quit they could just keep walking off the field and never come back!

That is so stupid!! It sends the wrong message to younger players, and will get someone killed or very hurt.

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You were watching Urban Meyer, Ohio State's new coach. I saw that too, and shook my head. But actually, that's rather mild for a major keague college football coach.

I think what he meant was, he and his other coaches would watch the players and substitute them out when it was required, but while they were in, the players were to go as hard as they could, and not ask to be relieved. That's the mindset he's trying to instill in this team in his first year.

He almost killed himself and lost his family in his fnal year in Florida, trying for perfection in a sport that is decidedly imperfect. He's promised his family he'll take care of himself and not go off the deepend any more. We'll see, if they start losing.

Go Bucks!


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