Is supplemental oxygen considered a performance-enhancing drug for athletes?

athletes and oxygen for performanceYou often see a football player on the sidelines breathing oxygen after running a long distance or having worked hard during a long series of plays, but is it actually doing anything? In athletic performance oxygen controls many things and a lack of it causes loss of muscle control, poor stamina and an inability to concentrate. At its very worse it can cause complete and literal collapse. Many athletes try to extend their stamina and performance by using oxygen supplementation but does it work?
Kenyan nationals have become next to unbeatable in marathon running and one supposed reason for this performance was oxygen surplus. Kenyans are born and train in an atmosphere with lower oxygen and when they compete in marathons they are usually doing so in countries at lower altitudes and therefore they experience a natural oxygen surplus. Some believe this allows them to have higher stamina and a faster, stronger performance than people who train in more oxygen-rich atmospheres. It also boosts the idea that supplemental oxygen increases performance. Even if this theory is true, the question still remains as to whether artificial sources of oxygen can help you achieve Kenyan stamina.~
There have been a few studies that have shown that when pure oxygen is used prior to an athlete’s performance that they can lift weights quicker and cover short distances quicker. However during these few studies the participants knew that they were breathing pure oxygen and raises the question that perhaps the result was due to a placebo effect.
If there was significant proof that oxygen could enhance performance then there would have been an immediate debate as to whether breathing pure oxygen was deemed a performance-enhancing drug and whether it should be regulated or banned.
The science of oxygen consumption and the studies that have been carried out answers the question with a resounding no.
In healthy athletic people, such as professional football players, nearly all of the oxygen in the blood is carried by haemoglobin and only a very small percentage (1.5%) is dissolved in blood.  Even if an athlete breathes pure oxygen, haemoglobin cannot be more than 100% saturated and therefore does not change and the amount that is dissolved in the blood only raises to 5.6%. This minimal affect will nearly instantly disappear after you have stopped breathing the pure oxygen and is not enough to affect recovery or performance.
One study looked at football players given 100% oxygen or a placebo after exertion before they had to exercise again. There was no increase in performance during the second bout of exercise. Another study also concluded that supplemental oxygen may have a placebo effect, but there is “no real physiologic benefit.”
Supplemental oxygen is therefore not considered a performance-enhancing drug because it doesn’t work, the science and studies cannot provide supporting evidence and at best it may just have a placebo effect, which has a similar result that lucky socks do.
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Rugby Nation Choose Oxygen Worldwide

Oxygen Worldwide have added to their ever-growing portfolio of clients with the England’s Women Rugby Team being the latest organisation to reap the benefits of a reliable oxygen supply.
England are midway through their RBS Six Nations campaign and Oxygen Worldwide have been helping them in their quest to claim a seventh consecutive title. The leading lights in oxygen supply were approached by team doctor Harriet Collins to provide a cylinder for away trips to Italy and France to aid the team in the most physical of sports.
The first delivery was arranged for the Italy clash earlier this month. Things were complicated when a late change in location meant the game was switched from Milan, to112 miles away in Genoa. However, the delivery went smoothly and so did England’s display as they cruised to a 43-3 win over their Italian counterparts to make it two wins out of two in this season’s campaign.
The only other nation to currently enjoy a 100% record is France, and the Red Rose country travel across the channel to take on their closest rivals in Paris on 11th March. Oxygen Worldwide will again be providing the fresh, clean oxygen to assist the elite athletes with their breathing. They will also be arranging the smooth delivery and collection process so the team can concentrate on preparing for the crunch match, as England, with Oxygen Worldwide’s help, will be looking for a repeat performance as they continue their bid for Six Nations glory.
All at Oxygen Worldwide would like to wish all rugby teams good luck throughout the RBS Six Nations campaign.
For more information on Oxygen Worldwide please email