Argentina soccer club reportedly using Viagra to deal with altitude in South America

Union de Santa Fe out of Argentina is traveling to Quito, Ecuador, on Wednesday for a Copa Sudamericana clash against Independiente del Valle -- stream on fuboTV (Try for free). Playing in high altitude -- specifically 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) above sea level -- will prove to be a challenge for any team visiting the Ecuadorian capital. Increased altitude is, naturally, difficult on athletes, causing shortness of breath, so Union de Santa Fe will be combating the challenge with Sildenafil, commonly known as Viagra, according to ESPN.

Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa is an incredibly challenging place to play due to the altitude, and altitude has had tangible effects on teams before. In the NFL, for example, a player like the former Steelers cornerback Ryan Clark couldn't play at Mile High Stadium in Denver due to his sickle cell anemia. In the realm of soccer, players from the Argentina men's national team have used Viagra before, specifically in the 2017 during the World Cup qualifiers when it played in La Paz, Bolivia.

"For (the lack of oxygen), we have oxygen tubes to be used before the match, at half-time and after the game," the club's doctor Santiago Calvo said, via ESPN. "The other side is the pressure from the atmosphere. This increased pressure creates a vasoconstriction; the arteries become smaller around the lungs. This decreases the interchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide -- and that is where the Viagra comes in. It widens the blood vessels around the lungs."

Luckily, soccer matches at their longest may run around two hours. If Union de Santa Fe had a four-hour match on Wednesday, it could be an issue.

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