Injecting B-12 into athletic controversies

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Here’s an interesting article from Rachel Bachman of Oregon Live:

Pity poor vitamin B-12.

One day it’s circulating through the human body,building fresh cells and protecting nerves. The nextit’s splashed across the nation’s news pages likeLindsay Lohan:

“Sprinter thought injection was B-12.”

That sprinter is Justin Gatlin, whose assistant coach gavethe world record-sharing athlete a shot two weeks before hetested positive for steroids. Gatlin explained recently,during an arbitration hearing to determine whether theeight-year competitive ban he faces should be reduced, thathe thought the injection was B-12.

Never mind that Gatlin violated the First Rule of Syringes:Only let a doctor or nurse plunge one into you.

He also inspired a question: Why would an athlete take B-12?

Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of the division of health promotionand sports medicine at Oregon Health & ScienceUniversity, said the only reason to take B-12 is to treat arare type of anemia. Regular folks, he said, don’t needmuch extra.

“You have up to three to five years’ storage ofB-12 in your liver,” Goldberg said.

But that hasn’t stopped other athletes from taking andimplicating the vitamin.

Former major leaguer Rafael Palmeiro blamed a contaminatedshot of B-12 for his positive steroid test in 2005.

Graham Richardson, Olympic village mayor at the 2000 SummerGames in Sydney, said that when athletes were asked toidentify the contents of syringes left in their rooms,”inevitably they say it’s vitamin B-12.”

It does sound sort of innocent, doesn’t it? It’sjust another ingredient in Flintstones Vitamins, andgoodness knows Pebbles and Bam Bam wouldn’t be doping.

So even though B-12 apparently offers no advantage intraining or competing, it does provide a useful tool forathletes: an alibi.

“I mean, what are you going to say?” Goldbergsaid. ” ‘I cheated’?”

Rachel Bachman: 503-221-4373;rachelbachman@news.oregonian.com

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Mike Young

Mike Young

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Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
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