Int J Sports Med 1994; 15(7): 399-402
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1021077
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Sickle Cell Trait as a Limiting Factor for High-Level Performance in a Semi-Marathon

D. Le Gallais1 , C. Prefaut1 , J. Mercier1 , A. Bile2 , P. Bogui3 , J. Lonsdorfer4
  • 1Service d'Exploration de la Fonction Respiratoire, Hôpital Arnaud de Villeneuve, 34059 Montpellier Cedex
  • 2Centre National de Médecine du Sport, 01 BP V 54, Abidjan 01
  • 3Laboratoire d'Explorations Fonctionnelles, Faculté de Médecine, BP V 166, Abidjan 01
  • 4Service de Physiologie Appliquée et des Explorations Fonctionnelles Respiratoires, BP 426, 67091 Strasbourg Cedex
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


Of 1506 black males participating in the first Abidjan semi-marathon, 123 subjects with sickle cell trait (SCT) were detected, i.e., 8.7%. Twenty-nine of these subjects with hemoglobin S (HbS) were ranked among the first 332 participants to finish the race, a percentage of 8.2. These percentages did not significantly differ from the prevalence of SCT observed in the general Ivory Coast population (12.0%). Only one subject with SCT was found among the 22 internationally-ranked athletes. The concentration of HbS found in this athlete (37.7%), his mean globular volume (87 fl), and his hemoglobin concentration (13.8 g/ 100 ml) suggest the coexistence of alpha-thalassemia with SCT. These results indicate that the percentage of SCT individuals participating in a semi-marathon is equal to the prevalence of SCT found in the local population. Furthermore, the general ranking of SCT individuals is comparable to that of non-SCT individuals. Nevertheless, at the level of internationally-ranked performance, no subject with SCT only, was ranked; the one ranked subject with SCT presented an associated alpha thalassemia. We thus hypothesize that SCT may be a limiting factor for high level performance in a semi-marathon and alpha-thalassemia, an enhancing factor for subjects with SCT to succeed in long distance races.