The RFET (Spanish tennis federation) has acquired an oxygen tent called the “bubble.” They’ve been pretty active in publicizing their use of the bubble as part of the tennis players’ recovery techniques.
(Nadal receives a post-match massage in the oxygen tent)
The bubble is an oxygen tent (from the description, it sounds like a hyperbaric chamber) and athletes have been using these contraptions in order to boost their recovery. WADA currently permits use of these devices and cyclists make use of these devices as part of their training (many top cyclists keep oxygen tents at home for their own personal use). Given the publicity that Djokovic’s use of the CVAC pod received, people have been asking the extent to which athletes will go in order to maintain top physical form:
First, I think it’s necessary to point out that this oxygen tent is different from the CVAC pod. Oxygen tents (hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers) have been around for awhile and athletes have openly been using such devices. The CVAC pod is reportedly a far more sophisticated device than this oxygen tent—the manufacturer of the CVAC pod markets the device as being far more advanced than the oxygen tent and twice as effective as blood doping. Companies that manufacture hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers do not make similar claims about their devices. Scientific studies on oxygen tents also do not provide conclusive proof that an oxygen tent provides unfair advantage to the athlete. Currently, there are no studies on how the CVAC pod can affect athletic performance.
Secondly, the RFET (Spanish tennis federation) has openly publicized its use of this device. Several videos have been posted on the RFET’s Facebook page, describing the device and showing tennis players undergoing treatment inside the oxygen tent. Tennis players Samantha Stosur and Alize Cornet also make use of these oxygen tents (Stosur actually uses a hypobaric chamber, while Cornet uses a hyperbaric chamber). In summary, the benefits from using these oxygen tents (hypobaric/hyperbaric chambers) are not greater than the benefits received from altitude training. Therefore, I would not equate these devices with the CVAC pod, because the CVAC pod is marketed as being far more advanced than the oxygen tents in its effects on athletic performance.
**I wrote about the differences between the CVAC pod and these oxygen tents (hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers) in an earlier post, if you’re interested in finding out more. I wrote an initial analysis of the CVAC pod that can be found here.