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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 265607, 5 pages
Case Report

Goal-Directed Acupuncture in Sports—Placebo or Doping?

Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Friedrich Loeffler Str. 23b, 17487 Greifswald, Germany

Received 19 August 2009; Accepted 12 November 2009

Copyright © 2011 Taras I. Usichenko et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The modern pentathlon (MP), sports discipline including fencing, swimming, steeplechase and a cross-country run, requires a rapid change of central nervous and peripheral neuromuscular activity from one sport to another in order to achieve the best possible results. We describe the case where a top MP athlete was supported by a program of acupoint stimulation, which was directed to relieve the symptoms, preventing him from effective performance. Although the fact of acupoint stimulation was associated with improvement of his results, other factors like training effect, placebo and nonspecific physiological effects and their mechanisms in sports are discussed in a literature review. The popularity of complementary and alternative medicine methods among the athletes raises the question of their potential misuse as a doping in competitive sports.