Xenon Added to WADA Banned Substance List? WTF?

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I saw this article at Cyclingnews that said that Xenon gas has been added to the WADA list of banned substances. But, the problem with this is this line in the press release – “The ban on xenon, which is not trace-able, is effective immediately.” Banning substances that aren’t trace-able doesn’t make much sense at this time.

Xeonon gas makes a person produce more EPO. A research paper, in 2009, by a team of British and Chinese researchers, showed that mice who were given a mixture of gases containing 70% xenon for two hours had double the amount of HIF1A and EPO in their system 24 hours later. That is pretty much more, huh?

But the rule banning Xenon is sort of like the no needles policy that the Pro Tour Teams are supposed to be adhering to. If you’re not familiar with the no needles policy, it is now UCI Regulations prohibit injections that have the aim of artificially improving performance or helping recovery. It means riders can no longer inject vitamins, sugars, enzymes, amino acids or antioxidants to aid recovery. It is hoped the ban will contribute to the eradication of doping by greatly reducing the use of injections in cycling.

Is a policy a rule? And if there is no way to know if someone broke the rule, then why have the rule to start with. I 100% guarantee that there are a ton of guys that don’t adhere to the no needles policy in professional cycling. No vitamins injections or IV bags after races? Impossible.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m all for making sure that the playing field is as even as can be and making rules to stop the progression of doping in the sport makes sense. But, making rules that are not enforceable seem useless.

Can anyone out there name one rider, doctor, or team that has been sactioned for breaking the no needle policy? I think not. And I doubt there ever will be. It will be the same with Xenon.

Maybe these guys should focus on issues that they can do something about and not just make rules they know they can’t enforce.

xenonA Russian diagram how to administer Xenon gas.

16 thoughts on “Xenon Added to WADA Banned Substance List? WTF?

  1. Bill Laudien

    While not detectable in testing, riders and teams caught in possession of the substance would be subject to sanctions. Additionally, rider testimony has seemed to be a more effective tool than testing over the last two years. Finally, the EPO and HgH tests were most effective when they were first implemented. Having the ban in place sets the stage for the possibility of effective future testing.

  2. TomasC

    Also, this way they can re-test older samples and ban riders when/if the testing becomes available.
    I see no harm in saying oficially what is wrong.

  3. Joe

    A lot of drugs do things to mice — and don’t do anything to humans. In any case, xenon is present in the air, you are breathing it right now. So, I guess you need to ban yourself. Argon is too, so double ban. Read this article which outlines how ridiculous the ban is: Xenon banned based on junk science

  4. Rich W.

    Although it’s presence is not directly detectable, presumably its effects could be picked up in the bio passport. By banning it, you foreclose the possibility of a rider trying to explain away any anomalies in his bio passport by saying “I just used Xenon gas.”

  5. Robert E

    Breathing that stuff, I would be worried about contracting nasty case of pulmonary fibrosis later in life!

  6. VCScribe

    Better riding through chemistry. When xenon was discovered, it was thought to be completely inert, but it will in fact form compounds with oxygen. Maybe that’s how they nab the cheaters someday . . .

  7. channel_zero

    Retest? Who? When? 10 years from now when the SOL has secured wins in the record books?

    Between Chris Horner’s published bio-passport records and absurd limits on scores like T/E ratio, we know the IOC’s system is designed, more or less, to not kill athletes. That’s all. What’s worse is nothing has changed at the elite level of cycling.

    Absolute best case scenario is another low-ranking elite athlete will get sanctioned as a warning to the rest. Meanwhile, Horner is “never tested positive.”

  8. Francisco Mancebo

    One of those systems is in the back of the Hummer that I left for you at Mellow Johnnies. The Emir swears by it

  9. Joe

    I knew something was up when I was passed by a bunch of cycling mice the other day.

  10. Joe

    The reason I point out that xenon is in the atmosphere is because WADA banned “xenon.” WADA did not ban 70% xenon. WADA did not ban 80% xenon. WADA banned “xenon” and “argon” without any explanation of what this means.

    Ok, so you say, “Stop being silly, it means any concentration of xenon/argon above regular atmospheric levels.” Let’s look at that… Well, a nitrogen generator used for high altitude training uses pressure swing absorption to remove oxygen from the air — just oxygen, not xenon, not argon. So, when you reduce the amount of oxygen in the air, guess what? You are increasing the percentages of every other gas in the atmosphere. So, this means that all altitude tents are banned, because they produce a level of xenon/argon above regular atmosphere (as well as nitrogen, which is the primary purpose). Really? Is this what WADA means?

    So, why didn’t the WADA say, “Anything over 70% xenon?” Because there is not a single study that says that doing this has any performance enhancing effects on humans. It was a witch hunt by WADA because someone claimed some unknown Russians used it during some undisclosed Olympic events and some rat in a lab that was given 75% xenon for 2 hours made some more red blood cells.

    Not sure why the company is selling xenon — probably to make money, but they don’t sell a 70% blend. The highest they sell is 50%, so obviously it is not being used to “dope” in the manner WADA intends to ban.

    My point is that the ban was not thought out. (1) there is no method to detect xenon, (2) even if there were a way to detect xenon, it leaves your blood in about 10-15 minutes after breathing it through natural diffusion, (3) there is no evidence that it is a performance enhancing substance in humans, (4) there is no evidence that it is harmful (obviously, breathing pure xenon will shortly kill you, but so will drinking too much water. There is no evidence that using it in the 30-70% range causes any harm.) So, why exactly was it banned? Based on an article posted on the internet? Seriously?

  11. Joe

    And why couldn’t the person say, “I just visited Mt. Everest?” (or, slept in my high altitude tent, did CVAC training, etc, etc, etc)?


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