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

Ichiyama and Kirui Lead Marugame Half Elite Field

Last year's winners Betsy Saina and Edward Waweru, both of Kenya, return to the Feb. 3 Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, but in both cases they have tough competition. Ranked #1 in the women's race is Mao Ichiyama (Wacoal) with a 1:09:14, 3 seconds better than Saina's winning time last year. 3 seconds slower is Sinead Diver (Australia) with a 1:09:20 on home ground last year. Sara Hall (U.S.A.) isn't far behind, and with track star Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) making her debut off a brilliant run at last weekend's National Women's Ekiden it should be a solid pack up front.

In the men's race, 2017 marathon world champion Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya) leads the way, his best recent time a 1:00:04 in New Delhi two years ago. Only 2 seconds behind is Shadrack Kiplagat (Kenya), with Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya) and the Japan-based Waweru just over 20 seconds back. Waweru's condition is a question mark after an injury at the New Year Ekiden. Kenta Murayama (Asah…

2019 Japanese Distance Rankings - updated 1/21/19

JRN's 2019 Japanese track and road distance running rankings. Overall rankings are calculated using runners' times and placings in races over 5000 m, 10000 m, half-marathon and marathon and the strength of these performances relative to others in the top ten in each category. Distances will be added as the season progresses. Click any image to enlarge.


Past years:
2018 ・ 2017 ・ 2016・ 2015 ・ 2014 ・ 2013 ・ 2012 ・ 2011

© 2019 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Mokgobu and Sonoda Return to Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon

After an exciting head-to-head last year that saw them race each other to sub-2:10 PBs, Desmond Mokgobu (South Africa) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) return to the Feb. 3 Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon. The pair face not only each other but recent sub-2:10 men Hicham Laqouahi (Morocco), Abdela Godana (Ethiopia), Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Konica Minolta), Daisuke Uekado (Japan/Otsuka Seiyaku), Justus Kiprotich (Kenya), Takuya Fukatsu (Asahi Kasei) Kohei Ogino (Japan/Fujitsu) and Yihunilign Adane (Ethiopia) and sub-62 half marathoners Keijiro Mogi (Asahi Kasei), Charles Ndirangu (JFE Steel) and Shuho Dairokuno (Asahi Kasei), setting up a better-than-average pack by Beppu-Oita standards.

For the Japanese men Beppu-Oita counts toward qualification for the MGC Race, Japan's 2020 Olympic Trials. Sonoda and Uekado have already made it along with fellow entrants Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) and Tomohiro Tanigawa (Konica Minolta), but for Ogino and others it will be just about their last …