‘Boosting’ is where athletes in wheelchairs hurt themselves to increase their blood pressure and stamina. The practice is strictly banned by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), but it’s thought it happens more than expected.
At the Beijing Olympics an estimated 17 per cent had used the banned technique to enhance their performance. While able-bodied athletes can get the same effect by exercising in a particular way, pushing themselves to the limits, people with spinal injuries struggle.
One easy way of increasing blood pressure before an event is to injure yourself, methods include breaking small bones, wearing tight clothes and not going to the toilet until you feel like your bladder will burst.
The British Paralympics Association commented on the matter: “ParalympicsGB have included education about [boosting] for all our athletes and we do not perceive this to be an issue with any British athletes.”
However, medical experts at Beijing 2008 acknowledged that it would be possible, “it is possible that some athletes could have induced boosting during the competition and circumvented the initial screening process. This is difficult to monitor and poses a real challenge to the procedures for monitoring boosting in these athletes”.