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

Japanese National Track and Field Championships Preview

The 101st edition of Japan's National Track and Field Championships takes place Friday through Sunday at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. It's a strange time in some ways. Despite the overall upward trend spurred on by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the count of athletes who might make the London World Championships off their performances at Nationals is low. The marathon, walks, combined events and relays aside, based on current qualifying times only the men's 100 m, women's 5000 m and women's 10000 m could field full three-member squads, and not many events look set to join that list. The progress over the last few years in men's distance on the track seems to have stalled, with nobody qualified for London in the 5000 m and the only man qualified in the 10000 m already a scratch. Is it a just a hiccup or a sign of problems in the buildup to 2020?

Visit the JAAF's National Track and Field Championships website for entry and start lists, live results, photos an…

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the d…

JAAF Announces Preliminary Team for London World Championships

A day after the end of the 2017 Japanese National Track and Field Championships, the JAAF announced its preliminary team for August's London World Championships. No men made the team in long distance, while no women were named in any event except long distance. Top-placing athletes at the National Championships have until July 23 to chase standards in hope of being added to the team, but excluding the marathon and race walk, the team as announced on June 26:

Women's Long Distance
Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) - 5000 m
Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 5000 m / 10000 m
Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 10000 m
Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) - 10000 m

Men's Sprints
Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 100 m / 200 m
Shuhei Tada (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 100 m
Aska Cambridge (Nike) - 100 m
Shota Iizuka (Mizuno) - 200 m
Takamasa Kitagawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 400 m

Additional Relay Members
Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) - 4x100 m
Kenji Fujimitsu (Zenrin) - 4x100 m
Kentaro Sato (Fujitsu) -…