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Proposed world ban on hypoxic devices criticised

Media statement from io
Friday 15 September 2006

Proposed worldwide ban on hypoxic devices criticised

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) proposal to ban hypoxic devices, which deliver altitude simulation, is ‘misguided’ according to Michael Lodge, Chief Executive of leading altitude simulation company, io.

Mr Lodge is one of the developers of io, a New Zealand-based global company delivering altitude simulation programmes to professional sportspeople and members of the general public for lifestyle, health and sporting benefits.

He describes the controversy around altitude simulation as unnecessary and heavy-handed on the part of the Agency.

WADA is to meet this weekend in Montreal to scrutinise athletes’ use of hypoxic devices and to approve the 2007 List of Prohibited Substances to govern competitive sport.
“WADA seems to believe that altitude simulation somehow violates the ‘spirit of sport’, yet altitude simulation is natural and drug-free, and essentially mirrors the process which occurs naturally in people living or training at altitude,” says Lodge.
“This is not something athletes undertake in an underhand or covert manner, it is a supplementary training option that is recognised as offering health and lifestyle benefits not only to athletes, but to the general population.
“A ban on hypoxic devices would be pointless and virtually impossible to enforce. Altitude simulation is no different than going to live or train in a mountain area, it’s simply more affordable for lowlanders. Altitude simulation is not a drug and should be beyond the scope of the Agency’s agenda.

“Harnessing the benefits of altitude is not new; athletes have been dong this for decades, as far back as the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, so it’s incredible that WADA is even considering a ban that won’t level the playing field, but will instead leave those athletes who are fully funded or live at altitude with a distinct advantage.”

Over the past several months athletes and coaches from around the world have expressed through the media a united opposition to the WADA stance.

“The message that seems to be coming through is that WADA is stretching its remit too far,” says Lodge. “The ramifications of a potential ban are enormous. Where will it end? Will WADA ban vitamins or calcium tablets next?”

If altitude simulation is ruled as a prohibited method by WADA this weekend, the ban will affect only athletes involved in sport at a competitive level.

“Many athletes use the io programme as a training aid, but we focus on delivering benefits of altitude to almost everyone. We have clients with asthma, sleep disorders, people recovering from chemotherapy and also people who just want more energy and vitality. A ban won’t affect these people, or amateur athletes,” says Lodge.

Currently at the Auckland io centre transatlantic rowing champions Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald are using altitude simulation to prepare for their unassisted trek to the South Pole in November.

Other io clients include freedive champion Ant Williams, the Black Ferns, a number of All Black players and mountain biker Scarlett Hagen. io is headquartered in Queenstown, with centres in Auckland, Queenstown and SE Australia.


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