Blood transfusion and athletics. Games people play

H. G. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Recently, the U.S. Olympic Committee revealed that 7 members of its 24-member Olympic cycling team, including 4 medalists, had received blood transfusions in an effort to enhance their performance in the Los Angeles Olympic games. Ironically, public disclosure took place during National Blood Donor Month and at a time when blood shortages were being reported in southern California and elsewhere in the country. According to team officials, the athletes were given transfusions of whole blood, collected from both relatives and from unrelated donors, in a motel room. Details of the collection, storage, and compatibility and safety testing have not been released. Blood is a drug. Collection, storage, and compatibility testing of blood for transfusion are carefully prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration. Facilities for blood collection and transfusion are registered, licensed, and inspected for compliance. Like other drugs, blood should be given only for medical indications. In 1976 the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee formally condemned the practice of blood transfusion for athletes in good health. As of this writing, however, neither the International Olympic Committee nor the U.S. Olympic Committee has explicitly forbidden blood doping. They should.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-856
Number of pages3
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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