Saturday, July 19, 2008

Drugs, Testing, and the Olympics



I received a really cool article from Popular Science magazine on how drugs improve an athlete’s performance, and the chances of it being discovered. The article can be found at: http://www.popsci.com/scitech/gallery/2008-07/juicing-30, and is entitled ‘Juicing 3.0’. It’s a quick read, and very informative. Here is my quick summary:

Five different Drug Enhancements were discussed. I thought the most interesting of the 5 was the Mental Improvement drugs like Modafinil. This was used at the 2003 World Track and Field Championships by sprinter Kelli White. And with this chemical help, she cut a whopping second and a half off of her 100 and 200 meter races, sweeping both the races. Modafinil is one of the FDA approved ‘neural enhancers’, used in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease and depression. Drugs like these can boost a bodies’ dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels. These can help an athlete’s mental outlook, as well as their motor control and muscle reaction time—an edge in any sport. But drugs like Modafinil can be detected in blood and urine tests, which was how Kelli White was caught.

Another really weird Genetic enhancement was discovered by Genetist doctors who learned that turning off the protein Myostatin can double the muscle size in mice. Yes, this picture below is a picture of a whippet dog (the normal size of a whippet is below)! Yes, with this sort of muscle increase, you have to think that athletes will try and abuse it. Right now, tests can detect the use of antibodies to turn off the protein. But scientists can be tricky, and they may find out a way to use other delivery systems, like RNA interference, which would be undetectable.

I hope you enjoy the Popular Science article. Oh, the China Summer Olympics are going to be fun, won’t they?

1 comment:

edward oleander said...

I am so torn about the China Olympics... Usually, I preach the "keep politics out of the Olympics" line, and a large part of me keeps telling the rest of me to mellow out, kick back and watch the incredible spectacle.

But a growing part of me has turned rabidly against the Chinese. Not the individuals themselves, of course, but against the culture and government.

When China supplants the USA as the dominant superpower in the next half century, it will presage a period sure to fire the imaginations of those who see the end of the world coming. The disasters to come, in every area from climate to human rights to general worldwide life expectancy, will make the past decade seem tame.

Anything, like these Olympics, which lends legitimacy to China emergence from the third world, is causing more harm than good. Denying China the right to host these games would have been appropriate, but what can you expect from a world who gave china a free pass after the 1989 massacres...