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Biotech Medicine

Let the Games Be Doped 773

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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  • by Cadallin ( 863437 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:39PM (#24589613)
    They could start by allowing recumbent designs first.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @04:50PM (#24589883)

    Thanks a lot! Now how the hell am I supposed to fool them into thinking I'm dialing in from the states?

  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:08PM (#24590179) Journal
    Yes they did :) []
  • by Tilzs ( 959354 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:23PM (#24590365)
    For a real life version []
  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:23PM (#24590375)

    The governing bodies may not care, but anabolic steroids and the steroids used for medical treatments are very different.

  • by thedonger ( 1317951 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:27PM (#24590433)

    This is a little off-topic, but the racing isn't about anything if no one can see it because homogenizing the equipment eliminates sponsors who help foot the bill to get it on television. They want to see their equipment under the winning rider. And I would guess that any equipment advantage at the highest level of sport is such a small percentage of the overall package (including rider fitness, length of legs, muscle mass, mental strength, etc.) that it doesn't affect the outcome of the event.

    Doping and other performance enhancers have a noticeable effect. Perhaps legalizing them would give birth to the non-enhanced Olympics. And then people with prostheses could then be allowed in the enhanced version.

  • Re:No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:52PM (#24590839)

    This leads to a "tragedy of the commons", though, where athletes can no longer compete on their own merits without using (potentially harmful) performance enhancing drugs because everyone else is using them. I don't think we want to go down that road.

    Actually it doesn't have much to do with the tragedy of the commons. It is, however, a very nice example of the prisoner's dilemma.

  • by rlk ( 1089 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:18PM (#24591179)

    Actually, they don't currently have to use the same bike (and certainly not the same parts) for the entire race. They can use special bikes for time trials that aren't allowed in mass start road races. There are other parts changes that can be done for particular conditions; on mountain stages they might use a rear gear cluster (and possibly chainrings) with lower gear ratios on the low end -- on flat stages they use narrower gear ranges to stay as close as possible to optimum RPM at all times.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:21PM (#24591225)

    I remember this match .. Mohamed Ali Rashwan, an Egyptian Judo player, in the Judo finals of the 1984 summer Olympics, playing against Japan's Yasuhiro Yamashita, who was playing with a torn right calf muscle.

    Rashwan voluntarily did not aim for Yamashita's right leg because he was conscious of his competitor's injury.

    And he lost the match, preferring not to win a Gold medal through dishonor.. but rather play on his opponent's healthy limb.

    He won a prize from the international fairplay committee recognizing his sportsmanship.

    To this day, the Japanese admire this man very much.

  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:47PM (#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.

  • by sxltrex ( 198448 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:53PM (#24591569)

    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.

  • Re:No (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:17PM (#24591843)
    The limit for caffeine is 15microg/ml, which is about 5 or 6 cups of strong coffee. Back when I was swimming, I would always drink one or two cups during breakfast before meets, and never tested positive. Its a limit put there to keep athletes from popping caffeine pills, which could cause medical problems during athletic events.

    The NCAA also regulates the distribution of supplements by schools, limiting the kinds and contents to a very short list. Included in the impermissible list is creatine and artificial protein powders, and anything with 30% or more of its calories from protein.

  • Re:No (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:23PM (#24591923)
    Hulu was put up by the TV Networks themselves. It's the only legal place to view those clips, and it was the only place I could easily find it. You want to see it, google it yourself, but here is a summary with pics: transcript [].
  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dark_MadMax666 ( 907288 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:26PM (#24591953)

    Idiots modded idiot parent "informative" . There are anabolic steroids and corticosteroids - both used in medicine. Exactly same anabolic steroids used s in strength and bodybuilding as well. Most anabolic steroids were developed for their medical applications.

    Corticosteroids are immunosuppressants.

  • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

    by aliquis ( 678370 ) <> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @08:21PM (#24592581) Homepage

    WADA doping list covers lots of substances, anabolic steroids just being one group of them. []

    Over here in Sweden AAS is what's (non-authorized) illegal to use for each and everyone, but if you compete in a sport under WADAs control there is a lot of other substances which are banned within that sport and competitions, even though normal non-competing people are free to use them.

  • Re:No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Scott Carnahan ( 587472 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @09:48PM (#24593399) Homepage

    We shouldn't let journalists dope either. Case in point: this article.

    I agree. Tierney in particular likes to present himself as someone who comes up with insightful ideas that buck conventional wisdom. However, the evidence suggests that he typically gives a cursory examination to a complex problem, and then offers an "easy way out" solution that is already rather popular among a large group of people.

    Here's another example [], this time about women in math.

  • Re:Won't work. (Score:2, Informative)

    by XcepticZP ( 1331217 ) on Thursday August 14, 2008 @04:38AM (#24596129)
    Oh, and I suppose we can all believe in fairies while we're at it, too? No thanks, buddy, some of us live in the real world.

    The olympic games are nothing more than a glorified pissing contest. Or if you don't want to generalize so much, it's about who can horde the most athletes as "citizens" so that they can win their new country lots of shiny medals.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.