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Biotech Medicine

Let the Games Be Doped 773

Posted by timothy
from the hobble-out-for-amputations dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "John Tierney poses the question in the New York Times 'what if we let athletes do whatever they wanted to excel?' Before you dismiss the notion, consider what we're stuck with today — a system designed to create a level playing field, protect athletes' health and set an example for children, that fails on all counts. The journal Nature, in an editorial in the current issue, complains that 'antidoping authorities have fostered a sporting culture of suspicion, secrecy and fear' by relying on unscientifically calibrated tests, like the unreliable test for synthetic testosterone that cost Floyd Landis his 2006 Tour de France victory and even if the authorities manage to correct their tests, they can't possibly keep up with the accelerating advances in biology." Read on for more.
Hugh Pickens continues: "Bengt Kayser, the director of a sports medicine institute at the University of Geneva argues in an article that has been supported by more than 30 scholars in the British Medical Journal that legalizing doping would "encourage more sensible, informed use of drugs in amateur sport, leading to an overall decline in the rate of health problems associated with doping (pdf). In the competition between increasingly sophisticated doping — e.g. gene transfer — and antidoping technology, there will never be a clear winner. Consequently, such a futile but expensive strategy is difficult to defend.""
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Let the Games Be Doped

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  • Sure, and then.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by exazoid (212023) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:34PM (#24589521)

    ... we could allow mopeds in Tour de Frace :o)

    • by Cadallin (863437) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:39PM (#24589613)
      They could start by allowing recumbent designs first.
      • by JimFive (1064958) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:53PM (#24589917)
        Wrong direction, everyone should be riding the exact same bike. The Tour is about the athletes not the equipment.

        --
        JimFive
        • by pthisis (27352) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:06PM (#24590145) Homepage Journal

          Wrong direction, everyone should be riding the exact same bike. The Tour is about the athletes not the equipment.

          It's a bicycle race. The equipment is a huge part of it (it's what the sport is named after). Foot racing is all about the athletes. Cycling, by its very nature, is about both.

        • by techess (1322623) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:23PM (#24590391)

          Wrong direction, everyone should be riding the exact same bike. The Tour is about the athletes not the equipment.

          I completely disagree with this. There are approximately 200 athletes in the Tour de France and I think it would be cruel and unusual to make them share one bike. It would be hard enough to get them to fit on there let alone figure out who actually won.

        • Indeed (Score:3, Funny)

          by Snaller (147050)

          Give them all drugs and you have leveled the playing field. Its not as if its about anything but money anyway.

      • by rikkards (98006) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:36PM (#24590589) Journal

        Love to see a Recumbent on the Pyrenees or the Alps. It would be interesting to see what tech could do to allow one to climb those hills.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sxltrex (198448)

          Recumbents would get slaughtered on the climbs. Their advantage is on the flats and downhills, but they wouldn't be able to make up the time lost on the uphill portion of the stage.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:04PM (#24590115)

      I draw the line at androids! no athlete should have less then 40% natural body parts! THEIR body parts!

    • by Angostura (703910) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:21PM (#24590349)

      You're being modded funny, but you should also be modded insightful, because that is probably how it would start. It would end with the Men's 1500 meters being won by a chap in a Formula 1 car, or perhaps a helicopter. Afterall - why not? All sports have arbitrary rules, designed to keep the game and competition fun. Without them, the game becomes a simple and boring arms race.

      • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:43PM (#24590709)
        I don't know why you call an arms race "simple and boring". To me, having all these people who dedicate their entire lives to something as inane as being able to run faster than other people within the arbitrary confines of some set of rules is what is "simple and boring". Trying to engineer an actually better solution is neither "simple" or "boring".
  • Anybody remember? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:34PM (#24589529)

    East German Gymnasts?

    That is reason enough.

  • Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:35PM (#24589541)

    Legalizing doping will only raise the bar to the next level. Now that everyone can be doped, some will be more doped than others. Thus we are back to the original problem, that some people are more doped than others.

    If they legalize doping, they will say what? You can take 50mg of this substance. How can they make sure everyone only takes this much? It will require even more policing.

    The reason for doping are purely economic ones, people like cyclists on Tour de France get many green pieces of paper with dead presidents on them. Take out the money incentive from sports and you eliminate doping.

    • Re:Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:46PM (#24589783) Homepage Journal

      Drugs don't make you perfect all at one, there's still hard work to be done and if used liberally or even a little improperly, many of these 'sport enhancing' drugs can destroy a person's fitness.

      There's no sense in setting arbitrary boundaries, you just get to square one again, I think the author suggests the only reasonable way to commit to allowing people to drug themselves is to do it without a limit.

      There's no chance or even a good reason to take money out of competition. Some of these people spend their entire waking lives preparing for these events; there's just no room for a regular job. Sponsorship is vital and winning should be rewarded for the sacrifice.

    • Re:Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xenn (148389) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:51PM (#24589889)

      How can they make sure everyone only takes this much? It will require even more policing.

      The reason for doping are purely economic ones, people like cyclists on Tour de France get many green pieces of paper with dead presidents on them. Take out the money incentive from sports and you eliminate doping.

      Well, for MY money, I'd like to see how far the human body can be willingly pushed. I mean, they are doping anyway...so for the people that want to, let them, and see how much faster/stronger they become. It's their choice how much they are willing to take or risk overdose. It's also current athletes choice how hard they train, or push themselves at an event.

      And there is other side benefits, as the article suggested, like there being alot more data to reliably check athletes that aren't in the dope olympics.

    • Re:Won't work. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:08PM (#24590169) Journal

      If they legalize doping, they will say what? You can take 50mg of this substance. How can they make sure everyone only takes this much? It will require even more policing.

      Not to mention that everyone metabolizes 'substances' at different rates.

      How do you tell the difference between a fast metabolizer taking 75mg, looking like they're taking 50mg and a slow metabolizer taking 50, but looking like they're taking 75mg?

      You essentially shift the competition to a different, internal playing field.
      And its a playing field that isn't affected by training or diet regimines.

    • Re:Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Al Dimond (792444) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:28PM (#24590443) Journal

      The reasons may be purely economic if you take a broad enough view of economics to render your final solution impossible. Olympic athletes have done just as much doping as professional ones. They don't get paid for their olympic performances, but they benefit economically in other ways (endorsements, and special career opportunities that come with celebrity status). Besides, sponsors and coaches may have money on the line in more direct ways, and could pressure amateurs. To eliminate all this, you'd have to *fully* eliminate the money incentive, which means that nobody is even interested.

      But I don't think the reasons are purely economic anyway. People cheat all the time for little reason but just to win. Have you ever just dominated a little kid at checkers? The last thing they do before throwing the board at you is to try to cheat. People like winning. People that like winning even more than most are much more likely to train hard in sports for their whole lives. And people that have trained very hard are likely to become more determined to win, in order to validate that their effort was worth something. These people want to win a lot and they're surrounded by people that also want them to win.

      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:32PM (#24591353) Journal

        Have you ever just dominated a little kid at checkers? The last thing they do before throwing the board at you is to try to cheat. People like winning.

        Yes, I have dominated a little kid at checkers, and I enjoyed every moment of my victory, including the precious look of frustration moments before he threw the board and started crying. As a matter of fact, before we even started playing, I super-glued the board to the table to make sure he couldn't even throw the board. *THAT* was a priceless look of frustration, let me tell you.

        I also made sure I got to play the black side, and I put needles in the red pieces, so every time he tried to move a piece, I got to see him wince -- and once, when I let him make a move that would king him, he got so excited he gripped the piece hard -- whoo boy, the screams and the hint of blood on his finger just cracked me up.

        Seriously, who dominates a little kid at checkers? If you're going to win, at least make it close. Present the kid with options of multiple decent moves, and let him experience the ramifications of choosing the better move, and the ramifications of choosing the worse move. Use the game to reward strategic thinking, to reward planning ahead.

        Aside from your checkers example, though, you make a very good point. The system in which the athletes perform rewards winning, and it rewards cheating without being caught. It does not reward honest play directly.

    • Re:Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by carlmenezes (204187) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:41PM (#24590675) Homepage

      Make doping legal and you destroy the games. Pure and simple. You will effectively turn the games into more comedy than sport when you suddenly start seeing crazy side-effects resulting from all kinds of dope combinations.
      In addition, you will also be forcing athletes to dope if they ever want to have a hope of winning. That cannot be a good thing because you're forcing them to basically destroy themselves mentally and physically.
      Finally, if you were the athlete and you were all doped up because you had to and you won a race, would you not wonder whether it was you or the dope? Do we want to take that sense of achievement away from our athletes? Definitely not.
      The Olympics are there to show us what the human body is capable of when trained. Not when doped. Make that a separate event, where they can dope and then see how many will want to participate when they know others will be too.
      What encourages doping in an athlete is the drive to win at any cost and a mentality that makes them cheat. Cheating is a reality and will always be a problem that has to be dealt with until we have a way to make it impossible to cheat. Its the mental drive to break rules if necessary. Do you seriously think that new rules will help the cause?

  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:35PM (#24589553)
    Permitting doping in any sport is the road to that sport's ruin. And justifying the proposal on the basis that the current restrictions fail to 'think of the children' is pretty perverse-

    Imagine you are the parent of a child who shows some kind of sporting talent early on- Do you encourage him, knowing that weird drug induced side-effects might overshadow his life?.... (...No, you don't)

    Nope, not gonna happen, at least where rich countries are involved. Current drug tests may not be perfect, but they act as a massive break on the worst of this corrosive problem.
    • by e2d2 (115622) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:03PM (#24590099)

      Yes, given your example I wouldn't let my kid take these drugs, if the side effects overshadow their life. But the drugs that are banned go beyond ones like steroids and into the realm of performance enhancement.

      For instance Creatine. Would I let my daughter take it if she wanted to use it to better her work outs? Scientifically I have no reason not to. Ephedrine? I got a problem with it. Steroids? Never. There is a huge difference between them all though. You can't just say "drugs bad" and then move on. And that is my point. What drugs are we talking about? People think it's all steroids and you end up with "Bob had bitch tits". But that's not true. These anti-doping organizations are going the extra mile and saying anything that isn't on the approved list is against the rules, regardless of scientific merit in using them. Why? Because the bogeyman that's why.

      If anything it's simply patronizing us all putting them all under the controlled substance label or insinuating that anyone that wishes to take a chemical is somehow a dirt bag, well that's nonsense imo.

    • by rudeboy1 (516023) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:04PM (#24590121)

      I disagree with your first statement. I think it depends on what sport you are talking about. Take football for example, where even from an early age, many kids who show a genetic or physical aptitude for the sport begin training to become specialized athletic instruments. In Texas, and other southern states, it is not terribly uncommon for parents to hold their children back a year in school so that they will be bigger to compete in football.
      At the professional level, our current stock of "drug free" football players are some of the most fearsome and amazing physical specimens to ever walk the earth. And the willingness already inherent to the sport to risk life and limb for results is already accepted by both athlete and fan. Do some reading on what it's like to be a lineman in between games or off season. Read about how a lot of these former players have completely ruined their bodies in regard to retirement. The nature of game as I describe here would welcome the next stage in human evolution. Players who are accustomed to sacrificing their bodies for the game will gladly volunteer for doping, "bionic" body treatments and the like. Plus, since our society is unfortunately much more centered on professional sports, than on education and science, doing so will immediately create a high budget research field for human enhancement, both at the molecular and the tissue levels. No one is holding a gun to these athletes' heads, (not in this country anyway) telling them to do these things to themselves. If a grown man of consentual age wants to put himself in harm's way, I see no need to intervene.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        No one is holding a gun to these athletes' heads, (not in this country anyway) telling them to do these things to themselves. If a grown man of consentual age wants to put himself in harm's way, I see no need to intervene.

        If society has to pick up the pieces after these "grown" men fall apart, doesn't society deserve to have a say in what is or isn't good for the public health?

        That's why Congress is always threatening to intervene legislatively whenever there is a perceived problem with the NFL/MLB/NHL/etc.

        Just because you see no need to intervene doesn't mean we (as a society, as a government) don't have the power to intervene, haven't already intervened, and won't intervene as necessary. It just happens to be easier to pre

    • by pthisis (27352) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:32PM (#24590533) Homepage Journal

      Permitting doping in any sport is the road to that sport's ruin.

      I wish that were the case.

      Bodybuilding didn't take off until steroids entered the picture. The "natural" bodybuilding events (see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_bodybuilding [wikipedia.org] ) are basically niche sports by comparison.

      American football does pretty well, and while performance drug use is not technically allowed it's been essentially overlooked since steroids entered the league in 1962. Nobody has the same "strike them from the record books" outcry against teams like the 1970s Steelers and 1980s 49ers dynasties who had players that are well-known to have used performance enhancing drugs regularly. Even with the increased public pressure against them, you see the Carolina Panthers and others (Rodney Harrison with the Pats, Chris Henry with the Titans, really tons of others not limited to any small set of teams) get tiny slaps on the wrist and at most maybe a 4-game suspension.

      Heck, rather than outrage you actually see people writing things about guys like Shaun Merriman like "17 sacks in 12 games last year? Without the 4 game steroid suspension that extrapolates to 22.67 sacks for the season and the NFL record is 22.5!"

      Hardly seems like people care enough about extant widespread use for it to ruin the sport.

  • It'll just become another freak show competition. WE don't want a bunch of "The hulks" competing with each other to see which company has the better steroids mix.

    In fact, by letting (and therefore FORCING) all competitors to get doped, we're just throwing our money at the big pharmas. Is that what a sports competition is about?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Denger256 (1161267)
      Could it not be argued that doping is just the next step? Think about it these athletes use all kinds of technology to improve why draw the line at drugs?
    • by Black-Man (198831) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:53PM (#24589929)

      Face it. They say the gene splicing will be untraceable so it will be a moot point to attempt to screen athletes. It will infiltrate all sports... not just the Olympics. And if this is the case, then shouldn't droids be allowed to compete?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:12PM (#24590235) Journal
      Umm. The olympics are already a freak show competition, as are all high level sporting events.

      Seriously. You don't get to be a world class athlete by being "normal". Why, for example, is having crazy high hematocrit because your ancestors have been gasping for air at MANYthousand feet above sea level since forever good, while having crazy high hematocrit because you've been shooting a little EPO evil?

      The whole thing looks particularly silly with the "biological passport" system they've been pushing. Because athletes are carefully selected freaks, they can't easily tell which ones are doping and which ones are just naturally high in testosterone or whatever(Wait! You mean that the world's best athletes are likely to have naturally high concentrations of chemicals that aid athletic performance? Shocking!). So, the idea is to do exhaustive historical testing, so as to decide what is "natural" for that athlete(rather than the current system of just assigning an arbitrary cutoff point).
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:18PM (#24590313) Homepage

      In fact, by letting (and therefore FORCING) all competitors to get doped, we're just throwing our money at the big pharmas. Is that what a sports competition is about?

      Also, by effectively forcing all the competitors to get doped in order to stay competitive, you're also effectively forcing everyone who wants to try out to do the same thing. On down the chain it goes. So essentially every kid with dreams of making it into the Olympics will be encouraged to resort to increasingly dangerous performance enhancements from the get-go.

      There's just no reason to condone these sorts of practices. The summary says, "Before you dismiss the notion, consider what we're stuck with today â" a system designed to create a level playing field, protect athletes' health and set an example for children, that fails on all counts." I don't see how encouraging athletes to out-steroid each other is going to help.

      If you buy into those sorts of things, then you may as well say, "What if we allowed people to murder each other without legal consequences? Before you dismiss the notion, consider what we're stuck with today-- a system designed to protect people, discourage violence, and punish the guilty, that fails on all counts. People murder other people and get away with it, while other people are falsely accused."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      What about Shark Skin? It was about which company had the best coefficient of drag through water. There were numerous world records broken at Sydney because of Shark Skin.

      And steroids aren't the only 'performance enhancing' things you can do. What about the biathlon, I've heard reports of people undergoing LASIK for no good reason other than they wanted better vision.

      Although they have gone overboard when they stripped the gold medal from the Canadian when he tested positive for Pot. Seriously, Pot as a per

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      If we're going to make people ruining their lives with drugs a spectator sport, we really should go all the way. Give them some swords and throw in some lions (also drugged up, of course).

  • by onkelonkel (560274) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:36PM (#24589561)
    Have 2 classes, stock (unmodified) and top fuel (no limits or restrictions).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by srmalloy (263556)

      And establish a rule that, once you compete in the Unlimited Games, you are forever barred from competing in an unaugmented event, regardless of sport.

  • I think we should give them steroids & in the case of American Football, chainsaws as well.

  • by Channard (693317) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:36PM (#24589565) Journal
    .. and your average starting line will look like they've been made in Spore's Creature Creator.
  • by colmore (56499) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:37PM (#24589583) Journal

    that what might, in some argument be a sensible behavior for a professional athlete or a full time adult amateur athlete is in no way sensible for young athletes who are essentially practicing in a very publicized hobby.

    Calling open season in the upper tiers of athletics would certainly have the effect of more young folks (and hell even that guy who cares too much about company soft ball) doing more drugs, and that isn't healthy and it isn't good.

    I don't believe in the criminalization of drugs myself, but for something so explicitly about the body, athletics should really not be helping sell young people on the idea of dangerous chemical recreation.

    I hate the drug war, but it is important to note that our world would be a lot better without certain drugs.

  • by rshol (746340) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:37PM (#24589589)
    Create an Open or Unlimited category where all manner of doping is legal and an Pure category. Let athletes decide which to participate in fans which to watch. My bet is the Pure category dies in 2-3 years from lack of interest. The Ancient Greeks would not have understood our aversion to doing whatever it takes to win.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JimFive (1064958)
      I disagree a bit. I think that the Pure (or as a previous poster called it, "Stock") category would garner greater respect because we like to imagine that we could do these things with enough effort. I think that the Unlimited category would become a spectacle like the WWE that no one took seriously.

      --
      JimFive
    • by nlawalker (804108) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:44PM (#24589749)

      My bet is that athletes would continue to hide their doping so that they could win the Pure category, and the Open category dies in 2-3 years from lack of interest.

      There is no glory in taking the drugs, only in winning.

  • by anselmhook (962411) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:42PM (#24589681)
    Children of doping athletes have a higher incidence of deformity: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/children-of-doping-athletes-deformed/2007/10/31/1193618974100.html [smh.com.au] The point of the olympics includes an ideal of finding out our limits, and improving them. The problem with doping is the same one with modern news: it favors the individual instance instead of favoring the system. It is not sustainable, nor durable over the long haul... and by long haul I mean multi-generational.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:44PM (#24589733)

    The test that cost Landis his victory and title is actually very well calibrated - he got tripped up by the amount of testosterone in his blood that is not produced by his own body, as identified by carbon-isotope markers.

    That said, legalized doping will still lead to issues, as there will always be something that is unsafe and illegal to take, and which will be taken by unscrupulous athletes. Sadly, there is no way to prevent cheating, unless you simply say "no rules". And then I expect someone to show up with an aircraft carrier at a water polo game.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:44PM (#24589739) Homepage

    FARNSWORTH: He's good, alright. But he's no Clem Johnson. And Johnson played back in the days before steroid injections were mandatory.

    BENDER: Clem Johnson? That skin bag wouldn't have lasted one pitch in the old Robot Leagues! Now Wireless Joe Jackson, there was a blern hitting machine!

    LEELA: Exactly! He was a machine designed to hit blerns! I mean, come on, Wireless Joe was nothing but a programmable bat on wheels.

    BENDER: Oh, and I suppose Pitchomat 5000 was just a modified howitzer?

    LEELA: Yep.

  • Garbage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by immcintosh (1089551) <{slashdot} {at} {ianmcintosh.org}> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:44PM (#24589741) Homepage

    I think this is all a confusion of symptoms with causes. Sure, the current standoff between doping and dopers has created a somewhat unpleasant situation, but I think it goes deeper than just the doping. The real problem, as far as I'm concerned at least, is that high level competitive sports on nearly every front exist in a culture concerned only with winning--at any cost. Doping, the lack of sportsmanlike conduct, and all the other problems in high level competition--the way I see it these things all stem from such a strong emphasis on winning over simply playing the game for its own sake. I don't think legalizing doping, or finally preventing it completely, either way, will solve the problems we see. We'll just see a new symptom of the deeper ill manifest. What really needs to change is the whole culture of sports.

    My two cents anyway.

    • Re:Garbage (Score:5, Insightful)

      by genner (694963) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:49PM (#24589843)

      I think this is all a confusion of symptoms with causes. Sure, the current standoff between doping and dopers has created a somewhat unpleasant situation, but I think it goes deeper than just the doping. The real problem, as far as I'm concerned at least, is that high level competitive sports on nearly every front exist in a culture concerned only with winning--at any cost. Doping, the lack of sportsmanlike conduct, and all the other problems in high level competition--the way I see it these things all stem from such a strong emphasis on winning over simply playing the game for its own sake. I don't think legalizing doping, or finally preventing it completely, either way, will solve the problems we see. We'll just see a new symptom of the deeper ill manifest. What really needs to change is the whole culture of sports.

      My two cents anyway.

      Playing the game for it's own sake goes out the window the second you start paying a athlete. As long as your paycheck depends on winning your not going to play for the love of the game.

      • Re:Garbage (Score:4, Interesting)

        by schnikies79 (788746) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:10PM (#24590199)

        Oh bullshit. So if you love your job, and you're getting paid to do it, you don't really love it. Being an athlete is their job. Guess what? If I don't do what I'm asked to do at work, I get fired too, yet I still follow the rules.

        I know some professional athletes (I used to work for a pro football team), they love the sport, they live it, they breath it. They have a passion for it that trumps about anything else.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Which is why the Olympics are SUPPOSED to be an amateur (i.e. your paycheck does not depend on it) competition.

        They should enforce that rule. Near the olympics they keep playing commercials about the poor athletes, we should donate to help them, such and such a company is really good because it gives money to olympians...

        Amateur athletes should have to work to support themselves, and train for their sport in their spare time. That's what makes them amateur athletes.

    • Re:Garbage (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:55PM (#24589967) Journal

      Doping, the lack of sportsmanlike conduct, and all the other problems in high level competition--the way I see it these things all stem from such a strong emphasis on winning over simply playing the game for its own sake.

      Well, first off, the reason to play a competitive gamre is to win, not to play the game. That's why it's called a competition. I, for one, do not relish the thought of a "group swim for the fun of swimming" event at the olympics :)

      That said, I recently read a piece in NJ Monthly about the Special Olympics, where a young girl with Downs Syndrome & some other issues was winning a race, and slowed down to hold hands with a competitor to cross the finish line together. Somehow I can't imagine that happening at the regular Olympics, but boy would that make me start to view the world with a little optimism.

      another example is of a softball player who hit a home run, but blew out her knee, in her last college appearance. Members of the opposing team picked her up and carried her around the bases, since the rules forbade members of her own team from doing so.

      Sportmanship is hard to find in professional sports (and yes, for the most part, olympic athletes are professionals), but it exists at other levels. Sometimes it even exists at the professional level, like in soccer... an example would be when a player is injured, and the other team kicks the ball out of bounds to give a stop in play... and then the favor is returned whenthe injured player's team gives the ball back when play resumes. I just wish it were publicized better, and given attention at the professional level.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jez9999 (618189)

        I, for one, do not relish the thought of a "group swim for the fun of swimming" event at the olympics :)

        I, on the other hand, think you just came up with a fantastic idea for a new event. All female swimmers have to wear bikinis and group-swim. It's a requirement.

  • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:47PM (#24589805) Homepage Journal
    Here [sciam.com] is a pretty good analysis from game theory on what we could actually do to reduce doping. Bottom line - increased penalties.
  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:47PM (#24589811) Homepage

    ...just like the "all amateur" Olympics.

    Before:

    Bob Mathias was not permitted to complete in a third Olympics in the decathlon because he had made a movie and was paid for it. The IOC determined that the movie makers paid him to make the movie because he was an athlete and therefore was now a "professional athlete".

    Today:

    You have countless professionals playing in Basketball, Tennis, Cycling, etc.

  • Love the hyperbole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:47PM (#24589817) Homepage Journal

    Before you dismiss the notion, consider what we're stuck with today -- a system designed to create a level playing field, protect athletes' health and set an example for children, that fails on all counts.

    Lack of perfection is not failure.

    Could it better? Yes. Will it always be an arms race? Yes. Will athletes always try and get an edge? Yes.

    Using this logic to justify unlimited PEDs is like saying that since we can't stop criminals from stealing, therefore, we should just give up and let people steal whatever they want. After all, you can't stop a determined thief, so why not just let them have what they want?

  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jwriney (16598) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:50PM (#24589885) Homepage

    I say let 'em go for it. Have an "Unlimited" class of Olympic events, with half-ton, fission-powered, gene-spliced, titanium-boned monstrosities jacked up on nervous system stimulants strong enough to make Case from Neuromancer piss himself. Pole vaulting with nuclear pulse detonation boosters? Biathlon with AEGIS-guided weaponry?

    We'd of course need to clear a sufficient radius around the arena so we can squash the frothing bastards' inevitable thirst for global domination by nuking the hell out of them at the "closing ceremonies".

  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:56PM (#24589987) Homepage
    Michael Shermer, a competitive cyclist and "Skeptic" columnist for Scientific American wrote an article called The Doping Dilemma [sciam.com] on this very subject. It examines the doping issue using gaming theory to analyze the costs and payoffs of doping and suggests ways to make doping never pay off.
  • Gladiators anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by readin (838620) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @03:57PM (#24589997)
    So if you allow athletes to use whatever drugs they can find to make them perform well NOW, regardless of any future health problems, how many will accept early death in exchange for short-term glory? I'm guessing quite a lot of them. Young people, which most athletes are, aren't the best at thinking long term. How different is this different than the old Roman gladiators? Ok, they were slaves. Should we allow fights to the death as sport so long as the contestants aren't forced into it? Will most people be able to enjoy sports if watching them reminds them of a terrible price the athletes are paying in health and longevity? The drug tests may not catch all drugs well, but I would guess that in general the more impact a drug makes on performance, the easier it is to catch. Also the drugs with the most dangerous side effects are probably easier to catch too simply because of those side effects. So the drug testing can't prevent all cheating, but it does help limit the damage done by them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Shihar (153932)

      Should we allow fights to the death as sport so long as the contestants aren't forced into it?

      You pose good questions, and after having contemplated it, I think the answer is clear. We need more steroids and, far more importantly, good old fashion blood sports.

      UFC with knives? Greatest suggestion... ever.

      You really framed that whole thing well, thanks.

  • What's the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:01PM (#24590059)

    The appeal of sporting events like the Olympics is the idea of the dedication of regular people pushing themselves to extreme personal discipline. I respect athletes who get up at 5:30 am every morning to run or swim for 4 hours.

    I don't respect someone who's doped themselves up to take a short cut; anymore that I do someone who pays off a ref. No one with impeccable discipline should be forced to compete with a cheater willing to destroy his body or mind.

    BTW, this is what the recent Congressional hearings on steroids use were trying to warn us about. We now have kids in middle school pumping themselves up with steroids in order to secure positions on high school teams. The testimony from stars like Clemens was supposed to be bait to get people to pay attention, but the media couldn't see past the glittering lights of pro athletes to the testimony from the medical community.

  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@gmaMONETil.com minus painter> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:03PM (#24590105) Homepage

    First, I read all three articles. Once you overcome that heart attack, allow me to rebuff this nonsense.

    the NYT article and the summary say:
    Before you dismiss this notion, consider what we're stuck with today. The system is ostensibly designed to create a level playing field, protect athletes' health and set an example for children, but it fails on all counts.

    Exactly how does it fail on all accounts? Where is the proof of this allegation in this article? I don't myself see this as a broken system, so this statement is not self evident. If someone has some proof please provide it. To dissect this statement, I don't see athletes dropping dead in sports where steroids are banned, and I know plenty of kids who think Steroids are wrong. I also see that, at least in high schools, steroids are the exception, not the rule. I have however, seen stories of kids and athletes dropping dead from a steroid overdose, or running into emotional, or worse, legal, problems resulting from behavioral changes that current steroids are known to cause. So show me what's broken.

    The rest of the article falls on it's face because it's making an assumption I don't see as being there.

    The journal Nature, in an editorial in the current issue, complains that "antidoping authorities have fostered a sporting culture of suspicion, secrecy and fear"

    If you read the Nature article, it's slant is more a rebuke of the drug testing authorities who are not open about their processes, and athletes who are having problems disputing drug tests. I agree with that, if you are accused of doping you have a moral right to contest that. But to me that doesn't give any weight to a pro doping stance.

    If doping was allowed, would there be an increase in the rate of death and chronic illness among athletes? Would athletes have a shorter lifespan than the general population? Would there be more examples like the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in the former East-German republic? We do not think so. Only a small proportion of the population engages in elite sports. Furthermore, legalisation of doping, we believe, would encourage more sensible, informed use of drugs in amateur sport, leading to an overall decline in the rate of health problems associated with doping. Finally, by allowing medically supervised doping, the drugs used could be assessed for a clearer view of what is dangerous and what is not.

    This is from the PDF. More false assumptions. Only a small proportion of the population engages in elite sports because only a few are gifted to play that sport. The point is that with doping, more may attempt to be just that gifted, and then you have an explosion of talent. Everyone wants to be like Mike, just shoot up and you will be! That will then lead to health problems and side effects that come from doping. Sure you are guaranteed to get muscles and improve your performance, but there's more to life than sports, and if you dope for sports, absolutely everything else suffers.

    And it's not the kids and the athletes I really have a problem with when it comes to doping. The number one problem I have with doping are all the people surrounding kids and athletes who will pressure the kids to dope! Coaches with pride on the line (and maybe an increased paycheck), principals and superintendents trying to increase notoriety of their school district. Deans trying to increase enrollments. Endorsers promising big contracts for more touchdowns this season. The money chain will explode! All at the expense of he health of one kid who just wants to be badass and land a big contract. Other people get fat and rich at his expense. I absolutely abhor that possibility.

    There are things in health science that are working to improve performance of athletes without doping. It's my understanding that doping not only gives you an unfair competitive edge, but also leads to health problems down the road. If that's not true, someone please dispute what I'm saying. But that's the basis for the ban country wide of Steroids. The last thing we need are mega corporations shoving athletic performance enhancing drugs down our gullets, because if you think prescription drugs are bad now..............

  • by Fishbulb (32296) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:34PM (#24590549)

    You're naively assuming that it's up to the athletes at all. Given what goes on with doping being illegal, it would be a field day for sport club owners and countries; anyone who would benefit greatly without taking any of the risk. For them, to hell with the health concerns of the athlete, as long as they bring back sacks of gold. (and silver and bronze, but mostly gold).

  • Karma to burn... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HungSoLow (809760) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:37PM (#24590597)
    I debated on whether to write this, since I cherish my karma oh so much...

    What difference does it make? Doped or not doped, the entirety of professional sports is a sham. These people are treated with far greater respect, given far more opportunities to excel and far more financial compensation than any scientist, engineer or teacher ever will. Someone making 30 million a year for what amounts to being lucky to have their genetics is ridiculous (sure, training is involved, but training without supporting genetics means squat).

    And I say all of this as an avid sports enthusiast: lots of mountain climbing, hiking, soccer, cycling, etc... but none professionally. People in science, education, arts and entrepreneurial business have to work their asses off to achieve something tangible as opposed to one of these "sports professionals" who have trained themselves to run REALLY fast in a straight line (sometimes in an oval too!)

    I say fuck the games, let's simply let professional sport die as it should and leave sports as an enjoyable hobby / past time; not the enormous waste of time, money and space that it currently enjoys.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:41PM (#24590667)

    If you don't set clear limits on technology in sports, the competition is no longer one of athletics, but of engineering. The skill and effort of the participant becomes less important than the biochemists and engineers who have "rebuilt him".

    While such a competition among bioengineers would be quite interesting to see, it would be highly unethical to use humans like this, as building materials in a glorified Pinewood Derby contest.

    In all sports that can be called sports, the emphasis is on the effort of the participant, not the technology. Even technological sports like auto racing set up strict limits to the kinds of technology that can be used. Otherwise, NASCAR racing, for example, would just be a contest to see who can stick the biggest engine on four wheels.

    Sports already has plenty of controversy with possibly-unbalanced technological advantantages: consider the Speedo LZR racing swimsuit, Oscar Pistorius, and so on. Allow biotech into the mix, and it's a nightmare. And we lose focus on what's important: the athlete.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:47PM (#24591503)

    This issue was raised in the Movie Gattica, everyone is addressing the issue of current doping while ignoring what the original poster is discussing with his future projections. That is, what happens when biology excels to the point that we as humans begin modifying the gene code to improve humans. First we will start by eliminating genetic diseases, then people will start improving their children. Probably clandestine at first but I have no doubt it will grow into a culturally approved and even expected process. At the point when you can genetically create the perfect human swimmer do you ban them from the Olympics? What happens in the beginning when you can subtly make a stronger faster human and the enhanced humans aren't common, how do you select and prohibit those that were modified?

    It's an essential question because at the point where we begin altering the human genome and improving the strength, speed and intellect of humans at the genetic level, doping is a non issue and those without the modifications become incapable of competing against those that have been. Not only that, but it's going to be nearly impossible to tell if someone was modified at the genetic level before birth. It's decades away, but it is going to happen, I have no doubt, the genie was out of the bottle years ago and making it illegal won't change the fact that we will start changing the human genome while trying to make a better human being than the one nature created.

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