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Hypoxic air machines: performance enhancement through effective training—or cheating?
  1. M Spriggs
  1. Correspondence to:
 M Spriggs
 Ethics Unit, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Childrens Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, 3052, Australia; Centre for the Study of Health and Society, University of Melbourne, Australia; Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Australia;

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Following an investigation of the football clubs using hypoxic air machines, the Australian Football League (AFL) has decided not to ban the machines. This seems, however, to be a reluctant decision since it appears that some AFL officials still feel there is something undesirable about the use of the machines. Use of the machines raises questions about performance enhancement and the role of technology. It prompts consideration of the grounds for banning performance enhancing devices or substances and raises questions about what constitutes a drug

A machine being used by Australian footballers, which is designed to imitate the effects of high altitude training and enhance performance has prompted an investigation by the Australian Football League (AFL) and sparked debate in the media. The AFL decided not to ban the machine but a sense of unease about its use remains and there seems to be some difficulty in articulating the cause of that unease. The league’s medical officers say the hypoxicators do not contravene their antidoping code or the league’s rules,1,2 but according to at least one AFL official, the use of the machines is “sending the wrong message …

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