The state-owned Russian television network Rossiya-24 has aired a news report comparing American swimmer Michael Phelps' use of an ancient Chinese therapy called “cupping” to illegal doping. In the TV broadcast, the Rossiya-24 anchor tells viewers that Phelps “in many respects owes his achievements to vacuum massage, which is how this therapy is described scientifically.”
The Russian news report compares cupping to meldonium, the banned performance-enhancing substance used widely by Russian athletes that led to the suspension of much of Russia's Olympic team. According to the Rossiya-24 report, vacuum therapy improves blood flow, thereby allowing muscles to recover faster after physical exercise. “Meaning that the effects of such procedures are in many ways similar to the actions of meldonium,” the Russian network explains.
Medical experts in the West widely question the benefits of cupping, dismissing it as a generally useless homeopathic treatment.