Thanks to quikazhell for this. What do you all think of the smokescreen of pimping Alto Lab Altitude Simulator, made by Pharma Pacific?
Novel training spurs Chambers to challenge Bolt
By Jonathan Littman, Yahoo! Sports Mar 9, 11:52 pm EDT
Dwain Chambers says Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative founder Victor Conte once supplied him with enough performance-enhancing drugs to “kill an elephant.” Seven years later, the world-class sprinter has partnered with Conte again, this time on an innovative – but legal – high-altitude training regimen that appears to deliver even better results than the drugs he took with abandon.
At the relatively advanced age of 30, Chambers shocked the world in Turin, Italy, last weekend, turning in the third-fastest time in history for the 60-meter dash in the semifinals of the European indoor championships, then took gold in Sunday’s final. He demonstrated that he might be the only man who can challenge Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Sports on the eve of the release of his tell-all autobiography that angered track officials to the point where they could ban him from competing again, Chambers discussed his alliance with Conte, his history of drug use and remarkable resurgence.
“I am completely and totally drug free,” Chambers said.
Such a proclamation might be met with skepticism by those familiar with his past – or even those who simply read his book. But he is tested frequently and has convinced Charles van Commenee, the new head coach of the British team.
“Actually, it’s quite a positive message if somebody who is obviously drug free is running these fast times,” van Commenee said. “You wonder why anybody would need to take something.”
Chambers’ continued relationship with Conte might raise eyebrows. But both men say their current collaboration to slice hundredths of a second off sprint performance is lawful. They embrace a technology called intermittent hypoxic training, the practice of alternately breathing low and high oxygen air for alternating durations of several minutes. Athletes breathe through a hypoxicator, a device that filters out oxygen to simulate high altitude, causing the body to begin making its own EPO (erythropoietin), the hormone that stimulates red blood cell production. Increased red blood cell count, even for a sprinter, reduces fatigue and recovery time during training.
Chambers is believed to be the first elite sprinter to try the training regimen, which he began in October.
“Dwain is absolutely blazing a new trail,” Conte said.
“When 38,000 fans cheered my name before the start, a shiver went down my spine. I got a bad start and then felt a twinge in my leg. Pop! Was there a sniper up there? I limped off the track clutching my hamstring. Except the hamstring was fine. I lied. It was the drug-induced cramps again.”
– Excerpt from Chambers’ book
Conte once gave elite athletes an edge with a performance-enhancing substance known as the Clear, which since 2004 has been classified as a steroid and can be detected in drug tests. Conceivably he could be supplying Chambers with fast-clearing drugs tough to detect by the testers, although doing so would seem reckless because federal authorities still monitor Conte’s activities in the seemingly never-ending BALCO investigation.
“The last time I gave any athlete performance-enhancing drugs was in August of 2003,” Conte said. “My days of wrongdoing ended the day of the BALCO raid.”
Despite Conte’s complicity in Chambers’ destructive drug use, the alliance between the two men did not end when authorities shuttered the BALCO operation. They remained in periodic contact and ramped up their partnership with the intermittent hypoxic training.
“The relationship really never went sour,” Chambers said. “I’ve forgiven him, he’s forgiven me. He opened my eyes to a lot of the ins-and-outs in track and in life.”
At an age most sprinters are nearing retirement, Chambers has mounted an extraordinary comeback. After serving a two-year doping ban that began in 2003 and failed attempts to play professional rugby and in NFL Europe, he appears rejuvenated.
His time of 6.42 in the 60-meter dash Saturday was .03 seconds outside Maurice Greene’s world mark and by the end of the weekend Chambers had the two fastest times in the world this year.
Chambers wants to dethrone the Jamaican superstar Bolt, saying, “It’s all about Project Bolt.” But this past weekend, the British press reported that track officials furious over the revelations in Chambers’ book might try to keep him off the track for good. Officials have said they may demand that before he runs another race he must repay the $170,000 in prize money he won while using illegal substances seven years ago.
Photo Dwain Chambers turned heads again in the track world when he ran a 6.42 in the 60-meter dash at the European indoor championships.
(Thomas Kienzle/Associated Press)
The controversy makes it even more noteworthy that he stuck by Conte in his return to world-class form. In “Race Against Me,” Chambers wrote that from 2002 to 2003 under Conte’s program he was a “walking junkie” who took “more than 300 different concoctions” of drugs that cost him $30,000 a year.
Serials of the book in Britain’s Sportsmail last week have created a firestorm in British track and field, as Chambers illuminated some of the inequity in the sport. Great Britain has banned him for life from the Olympics, while Justin Gatlin and other Americans who doped are free to return to the Games after they serve their bans. Chambers has also focused attention on athletes such as Britain’s 400 meter world and Olympic champion Christine Ohurogu, suspended a year for missing three drug tests: “I will go on record and say that any athlete who misses three tests has to be very naïve or has something to hide,” Chambers wrote.
Reached by telephone in Turin, Chambers said his book, “was an opportunity to get things off my chest. I realized it would ruffle feathers. They wanted answers – and they got them.”
Still, he seemed caught off guard by the swift reaction of British officials, who have called for an inquiry: “I didn’t expect it to create so much controversy.”
Said a spokesman for the United Kingdom Athletics: “We will hold an internal inquiry to see whether he has broken the athlete’s code of conduct.”
Said Chambers: “They’re not used to people telling the truth.”
If the sprinter seems unafraid of further sanctions, maybe it is because he already threw away the heart of a promising career. After testing positive for the steroid THG in 2003, suffering a two-year ban and what his former coach called blackballing by the top European track meet directors, Chambers has surprised even himself by returning to form.
“I almost threw away what God gave to me as a freebie,” Chambers said. “I took almost four years off. I’m curious what I can really do just on my natural talent. Maybe I can show youths that you don’t need to do [drugs].”
The air up there
High-altitude training has been widely employed for more than two decades by marathon runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes. Many Kenyan runners who have dominated long-distance events were born at high altitude and often trained at high elevations. More recently, Olympic coaches began a new form of altitude training called “live-high, train-low,” where athletes sleep at higher than 7,000 feet and train at sea level. In 2001, Nike launched the Oregon Project, an experiment to see what benefits would accrue for distance runners living in a hermetically sealed house in Portland that reduced oxygen to create the thin air found at 12,000 feet.
In the last few years a number of companies have introduced high-altitude tents and customized bedrooms used by cyclists, runners, rowers, soccer players and NBA stars. Once frowned upon by the World Anti-Doping Agency, these technologies are legal.
[b]Intermittent hypoxic training is an alternative to living or sleeping at high altitude. It involves alternately breathing oxygen-reduced air for 5-6 minutes through a mask or tube and then resting for 4-5 minutes by breathing normal ambient air. Track star Dwain Chambers has been using an Alto Lab Altitude Simulator, made by Pharma Pacific.
Intermittent training requires about an hour a day for about two weeks to create benefits. Last October, Chambers began the altitude training. “We’ve got a calendar, he’s got this notated,” BALCO founder Victor Conte said. “It’s a 15-day load.”
The first three days Chambers breathed air at 10,000 feet for five minutes and then rests for five minutes for about an hour daily. Then over the coming days the oxygen is thinned to 12,500 feet, and 15,000 feet. “The last six days Chambers went up to 20,000 feet,” Conte said.
Chambers’ resting heart rate climbs to over 110 beats per minute during the hour of intermittent breathing. He places his finger in a device that monitors his heart rate and blood oxygen levels. After a couple of weeks on the program, he takes a two-week respite and then repeats the protocol for five days every two weeks, which is called topping off. Conte, whose company is now called Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC), has created a supplement called HypOxygen that he believes supports high altitude training, including iron, vitamins B, C, E, Selenium and L-Carnitine.[/b]
Chambers is certain to create even more controversy by his refusal to abandon Conte and his former coach, Remi Korchemny, who along with Conte and two others was an original defendant convicted in the investigation of the BALCO.
“[Conte] and Remi have filled in the space my father didn’t,” Chambers said. “They’ve given me time, attention and focus. I never had no father. They filled that gap.”
The London-based sprinter is coached by a former rival, Daniel Plummer, and lacks a training partner.
“[Korchemny] still helps as much as he can,” Chambers said. “We communicate. He wants to try and correct where we went wrong.”
Chambers’ unbroken faith in Conte and Korchemny is a bold choice for an internationally acclaimed athlete who despite the controversy has remained a celebrity in England, his trials and tribulations followed feverishly by the British media.
On the heels of the apparent collapse of the Barry Bonds perjury case – unlikely to go to trial for more than six months because of an 11th-hour government appeal – Chambers’ comeback is also something of a resurgence for Conte, who appears driven to prove his relevance in a new arena of legal performance enhancement.
[b][u]“This is the wave of the future,” Conte said. “Everyone used to think [simulated altitude training] was all about endurance athletes. No one thought of applying this to explosive sprinting.”
Chambers is a true believer. “This allows me to have a deeper training load. I suffer less lactic acid, delivering more oxygen to my muscles,” he said, laughing: “It’s a shame we didn’t know this five years ago.”[/u][/b]
Chambers had astounding talent before he said he took drugs. In 1999, at 21, he earned a silver medal on Britain’s 4x100 team at the World Championships. But how far Chambers’ ability alone will take him now – with the baggage of his past deeds – is questionable.
His book has raised questions about complicity by British officials in doping. The Daily Mail reported this past weekend, that the International Association of Athletics Federation, track and field’s governing body, will rule in two weeks whether Chambers’ book “has embarrassed the sport enough to warrant a disrepute charge, and what would effectively be a ban from athletics, including the World Championships in Berlin in August.”
But Chambers noted that his goal in speaking frankly is to help rid international track and field of drugs. He has a meeting scheduled later this month with Britain’s United Kingdom Athletics, “on how I could educate U.K sport.”
Even before the publication of his book, Chambers and other professional track and field athletes coming off doping suspensions have faced an uphill battle in returning to competition. The sprinter’s predicament raises questions about whether there is such a thing as a second chance for track and field athletes.
Last year, the directors of the half-dozen European Golden League track meets – events that make up the bulk of appearance fees and prize money for international track athletes – agreed to ban all athletes who previously had served a two-year doping ban. Reached by email, Patrick Magyar of Weltklasse Zurich, one of the Golden League meets, wrote that allowing past offenders to compete would “cause an irritation with the public.” As a meet director, he said: “We do not wish to give this money to athletes that have cheated in our sport.”
The IAAF might not be able to renege on the agreement it has already struck with Chambers, which stipulates that he pay the $170,000 in increments by having 25 percent of his winnings garnished. “That agreement is in black and white,” Chambers said.
Even if Chambers is not disciplined or a sponsor comes up with the cash to pay the bill, the sprinter faces an uphill road to compete regularly.
Chambers is resigned to the ban, saying, “It’s made life difficult. I have to race where I can, where I have opportunities.”
He long ago lost his lucrative Adidas sponsorship, and no other firms have stepped forward. Today he believes drugs may have made him slower, saying he was banned for a substance – THG – “that didn’t work for me.”
Chambers proved Sunday that he may be the world’s fastest man.
“My legs are going to have to do the talking,” he said. “I believe in my ability.”
But then again, his words haven’t exactly been dull.
“What is there to say? I’ve given them everything they wanted,” he said. “They can have a read once the book is out. This BALCO [doping] saga and me are done.”