Skip to main content

JAAF Issues Warning Against Widespread Use of Iron Injections for Anemia

http://www.asahi.com/articles/DA3S12316787.html

translated by Brett Larner

The JAAF has decided to take measures against the widespread use of iron injections by long distance athletes to combat anemia, saying that they undermine the athletes' bodies.  Beginning this spring it is sending documents to high school, university and corporate teams under the governance of the various local prefectural athletics associations to warn of the risks posed by iron injections, following up with a survey to help understand the scale of the actual situation.  The JAAF considers this problem central to the stagnation of distance running and marathoning, particularly with regard to women's performances.

Iron injections were already conventionally known to have deleterious effects upon athletes, but because there are situations in which the injections are a legitimate medical practice they have continued to be allowed.  However, amid a sense of crisis the JAAF has opted to take a strong stance.  "If we do not face the iron problem head-on we will never be able to rebuild our women's marathoning," commented JAAF senior managing director Mitsugi Ogata.

In the background of the issue is the wildfire popularity of the ekiden.  Recognizing that "light makes fast," some junior high school and high school coaches, particularly of girls' teams, have their runners diet while doing extremely high-volume training.  As a consequence the iron levels needed to produce the hemoglobin that transports oxygen to the body drop, leading to anemia.  Iron injections offer a quicker-fix remedy than taking iron tablets orally.

Injections are only used correctly if the athlete is not already taking iron tablets.  A large amount of iron in the bloodstream can lead to "iron overload," excessive concentrations accumulating in internal organs such as the heart and liver and raising the risk of organ dysfunction.  At an April 10 seminar on anemia for coaches and trainers JAAF officials told them, "Do not give iron just because an athlete says they don't feel right or are not producing the desired results."

Daiichi Seimei women's corporate team head coach Sachiko Yamashita lamented the situation, saying, "I want to be able to help develop athletes to become stronger, but when they arrive at our team their bodies already can't handle the training."  The JAAF plans to help assemble local medical committees in various locations as necessary to explain the harmful effects of iron injections.  Additionally, the JAAF is exploring the possibility of introducing blood testing at high school-level races.

Translator's note: Also in the background of this story is Kaori Yoshida's 2013 suspension for a positive test for EPO after receiving treatment for anemia.  Amid international scandals such as the current one involving meldonium, the JAAF's sudden move against a longstanding practice gives pause for thought about what, if anything, might be being left unsaid.

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
Recognizing that "light makes fast," some junior high school and high school coaches, particularly of girls' teams, have their runners diet while doing extremely high-volume training.

That is a really depressing statement. I hope the JAAF warns coaches about the adverse effects of extreme weight loss, in addition to iron injections.
Girls should be told that unless you have enough fat for energy and muscle for power, you cannot be a good distance runner!
Anna Novick said…
Runners restrict their diet-->low iron-->iron injection-->health consequences

JAAF decides point of interference in this flow of events is at the stage of "iron injection."

If the JAAF were a consulting service, this client isn't pleased.

If the JAAF were like many Japanese dentists, they have treated the symptoms of the cavity but not the root.

Most-Read This Week

Norway's Moen Blasts 2:05:48 European Record to Win Fukuoka

More than living up to the promise of his 59:48 Norwegian half marathon record at October's Valencia Half, Sondre Nordtad Moen took down all comers to win the 2017 Fukuoka International Marathon in a European record 2:05:48.

【福岡国際マラソン】

🏆優 勝 モーエン 2:05.48! pic.twitter.com/lpzMUYHfhu — NOBUKI T&F (@nobu_777__tf) December 3, 2017
Superb pacing work took the lead group through 30 km with almost perfect 3:00/km splits along the way, a race of attrition that shaved down the field to a core group of five real contenders. Defending champ Yemane Tsegay (Ethiopia) was the first big name to go, with 2:06 man Lani Rutto (Kenya), the debuting Keita Shitara (Japan/Hitachi Butsuryu) and last year's 3rd-placer Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/Saitama Pref. Gov't) among the other big names to lose touch in the first half, leaving Moen, favorite Bedan Karoki (Kenya/DeNA), London Olympics gold medalist Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda), last year's 5th-placer Amanuel Mesel (Eritrea) and Boston Maratho…

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…

Shitara Wins Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler

In a year that saw him deliver one of the most memorable debut marathons in history, a half marathon national record, 10000 m and marathon PBs and more, Yuta Shitara (Honda) ended 2017 on a high note, beating three-time defending champion Jeremiah Thuku Karemi (Toyota Kyushu) to win the 42nd Kumamoto Kosa 10-Miler. Shitara, Karemi, London World Championships marathoner Hiroto Inoue (MHPS), Ethiopian Abayneh Degu (Yasukawa Denki) and track ace Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei) ran together in a lead group through the early going, but Shitara was just too much for the others to handle.

Shitara broke the tape in 45:58, only the fourth Japanese man to ever clear 45 minutes. Karemi was well under last year's winning time but nowhere close to catching Shitara, finishing 2nd in 46:10 and Inoue only 2 seconds behind him. With many corporate and university teams using Kosa to tune up for the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden and Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, it regularly produces the deepest 10 mile results i…