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The World Anti-Doping Agency banned the inhalation of xenon gas on Sunday night after deciding it could be used to enhance athletes’ performances illegally.
The president of Wada, Sir Craig Reedie, revealed that the untraceable substance, which studies have shown can stimulate the production of erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone, had been added to the agency’s prohibited list with immediate effect.
The Daily Telegraph revealed last month that Wada was planning a crackdown on the use of xenon following reports Russian athletes may have been inhaling it routinely for more than a decade, including before the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
And Reedie confirmed it and fellow noble gas argon had both been banned, with national anti-doping organisations given 90-days to fully implement the change.
“The two noble gases which come from the same family, xenon and argon, will be added to the prohibited list,” Reedie told the Telegraph following this weekend’s meeting of Wada’s executive committee and foundation board.
Xenon’s health-boosting properties have long been known – it is used in some countries as an anaesthetic and is being investigated as a treatment for babies starved of oxygen during birth and heart-attack victims – so anti-doping experts are thought to be unsurprised it may have been hijacked by those seeking to enhance sporting performance.
Benefits are said to include increased heart and lung capacity, a reduction in muscle fatigue, a testosterone boost and an improvement in mood.
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