Those circular bruises you may have noticed all over Michael Phelps’ upper body at the Rio Olympics are nothing to be concerned about. They’re the result of a healing method known as “cupping.” Contrary to what one Russian television station would like you to believe, the practice is not comparable to using performance-enhancing drugs.
A news anchor from Russian state TV spoke about cupping following Team USA’s victory in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay Sunday night. According to a translation from Mashable, the host said Phelps and other athletes are “following the Hollywood trend, the method was adapted by athletes.” He then compared cupping to using the banned substance meldonium.
“According to them, vacuum-based massage improves circulation and overall well being, suggesting that muscle repair happens faster after physical exertion,” the host said. “In other words, the net effect from such practices in many ways, is not unlike those of meldonium.”
Cupping, which has not been proven to have medicinal effects, involves placing heated cups on the body and using suction to promote muscular healing. Unlike meldonium, which is used to treat patients who have blood flow issues, it is not a drug.
Russia, of course, has had a big problem with meldonium this year. The New York Times reported in April that of 158 Russian athletes who tested positive for banned substances, 30 had used meldonium. As many as 700 Russian athletes were using the drug before it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The most notable Russian athlete to use meldonium has been banned from her sport for two years.
Basically, comparing cupping to using meldonium would be like comparing weightlifting to using human growth hormone. They both help athletes build muscle, right?
Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports