Why would an athlete stick pins in their testicles?

Pins poking into a pincushion.

The Paralympic Games is a sporting competition which involves disabled athletes who compete in categories similar to Olympic athletes.

And any time there's competition, there's the potential for cheating.

Some athletes who claim to be disabled may not be as disabled as they claim, while others may use banned substances such as steroids.

But there's a special type of scam that can be used by wheelchair athletes.

It's called boosting.

Boosting induces a state called autonomic dysreflexia.

It's caused when athletes with a spinal cord injury purposefully injure the lower part of their body, maybe by poking themselves with a sharp object or pulling straps too tight, breaking a toe, or, yes, impaling their private parts with pins. This doesn't cause the athlete any pain, yet it raises blood pressure enough to improve athletic performance, possibly up to 10 percent.

It also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Paralympics officials say it's not a widespread practice.

Said David Howe, a senior lecturer at the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Britain's Loughborough University:
"To assume people in Paralympic sport won't engage in whatever way they can to get an advantage is to put them on a pedestal... just because somebody has an impairment doesn't mean they're a virtuous person."
The secrets of 'boosting' revealed: How some wheelchair athletes cheat the system. Mail Online>>

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