The Effect of Blood Doping on Body Toxins

Blood Doping is defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency as “the misuse of certain techniques and/or substances to increase one’s red blood cell mass, which allows the body to transport more oxygen to muscles and therefore increase stamina and performance”. But does this improve the bodies ability to flush out toxins? We will be looking at this from an exercise related perspective, as blood doping is most commonly used for athletic performance.

The process of autologous blood doping involves the removal of blood (usually around two glasses worth) which is then frozen. Roughly 2 days prior to competition, the blood is then thawed and injected back into the athlete. During the period after the blood has been removed our body reproduces and replenishes the lost red blood cells. Once injected back into the athlete, this can increase hemoglobin levels and red blood cell count by 20%, thus increasing oxygen delivery. The same process can be achieved through homologous transfusions, which is transfer of blood from another human being with a similar blood type.

Through normal bodily functions, our muscles work by breaking glycogen (sugar molecules) into pyruvic acid in order to release energy in the form of Adenosine Tri-phosphate (ATP). With sufficient levels of oxygen, pyruvic acid is converted into more ATP or more energy. However, if there is a deficiency in oxygen, lactic acid; the primary cause of fatigue and muscle soreness, is produced instead.

Based on these factors, it suggests that due to the increased availability of oxygen, doping would decrease the accumulation of lactic acid, reducing muscle fatigue while increasing performance and recovery. However, by increasing red blood cell count and blood thickness, we are then decreasing cardiac output or the body’s ability to pump blood, suggesting that the bodies ability to then flush out daily toxins will decrease.
Please consider the adverse effects of blood doping.

Autogenous Transfusion:

  • Vascular inflammation (phlebitis)
  • Bacterial infection (Septicemia)
  • Hyperviscocity (excessive blood thickening) which may cause blood clotting, heart failure and potential death.

Homologous Transfusion:

  • All of the above as well as;
  • AIDS
  • Malaria
  • Herpes
  • Anaphylactic Shock

    Birzniece, V. (2015). Doping in sport: effects, harm and misconceptions. Internal medicine journal, 45(3), 239-248.
    Doping in Sports: Blood Oxygenation Enhancement. 2004. Health and Medicine, Issue I, Sports and Recreation, Volume VI.
    Kundu, S. Blood Doping: Is It Really Worth It?. Int. J. Phy. Edu. Spo, 3(02), 57-59.
    World Anti-Doping Agency (2020). Retrieved from

By Zac Scampoli
Occupational Therapist