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Biotech Science Technology

An Olympic Games For Enhanced Athletes? 245

Posted by timothy
from the also-a-high-altitude-olympics dept.
ananyo writes "With the Olympics due to kick off on 27 July in London, Nature has taken a look at how far science would be able to push human athletic abilities if all restrictions on doping were lifted. The article mentions anabolic steroids (up to 38% increase in strength), IGF-1 (4% increase in sprinting capacity), EPO/blood doping (34% increase in stamina), gene doping and various drugs and supplements, as well as more 'extreme' measures such as surgery and prosthesis. Hugh Herr, a biomechanical engineer at MIT, says performance-enhancing technologies will one day demand an Olympics all their own. But is that time already upon us?"
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An Olympic Games For Enhanced Athletes?

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  • On a related note... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wjh31 (1372867) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:56AM (#40696897) Homepage
    I've wondered what F1 would be like without all the restrictions. Modifying humans to this extreme is probably going to have unforeseen consequences in the long term. However with F1, if you were to take out the human element and have AI or remote control, you needn't worry about human safety and could lift all sorts of restrictions, allowing R+D budgets to be spent on whole new automotive areas.
  • Re:Not your choice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siddesu (698447) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:15AM (#40697183)

    It isn't nearly as simple as you imagine it to be. Organized sports are a show business that has to consistently deliver extraordinary performances in order to attract coach potatoes and sponsors. The people who get into sports are attracted by the promise of fame and money, but this only goes to very few lucky ones.

    Unfortunately, all who try are young, immature and quite often unaware of the consequences of the drugs they are using and the real costs they face. Many are lead into all this druggery by the coaches, peer pressure, etc. By the time they get the experience and maturity to be able to make a good decision it is already too late.

    I've lost a friend to this kind of "sport". Heart attack at 29. Very moral.

  • So? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HalfFlat (121672) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:19AM (#40697263)

    Top-level elite athletes are already genetic outliers who have also benefitted from good fortune in early training and nutrition and, typically, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of targetted training.

    It's not just a matter of will power or clever training schedules. It matters not how strong be my willpower, or how dedicated my training: I will never be an olympic-class athlete.

    Bring on the drugs, and the treatments. It would make elite sport more equitable, and further, the medical risks taken by those with the burning desire to compete at any cost will allow the greater majority of people to benefit from enhancements with more safety.

  • Re:All Drug Olympics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @02:07PM (#40702515)

    Fights to the death were actually fairly rare in gladiatorial games because gladiators were so expensive to train that it would be wasteful.

    That said, we already have things that are essentially bloodsport, but we pretend as if they aren't. What is boxing and MMA other than gladiatorial combat? Granted the purpose isn't to have people die, but it's certainly a risk, and long-term injury and debilitating brain damage is almost certain.

    We also already have people doing incredibly unsafe things to their bodies in the form of training or drugs now, it's just that often times they pretend they aren't doing it. I would much rather have it be legal and in the open (and more closely supervised by medical pros) than illegal and hidden in the dark where we can't have any idea of what is going on. Making it legal would mean that people doing this would be more able to get adequate medical attention, would mean that more research could be done in the open about the long term effects, and would make it easier to inform the general public about what kinds of things people are doing (sacrifices they make) to excel.

    There is no way we will ever stop people from using performance enhancements. I recognize that and think that, in a world where people will use those enhancements it's much better to have it in he open and supervised than the dark and unsupervised.

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