Science in the Olympics

While we watch in awe what the human spirit and mechanics can achieve, we often forget the science, or rather, the debate on science in the Olympics.

According to Nature News, anti-doping science is notoriously — some say unnecessarily — secretive. The drug-detection techniques and the “most sophisticated equipment” that was rolled out at the London games was not revealed till the beginning of the Games. (See link here.)

On the other hand, there are labs that develop drugs that are tweaked chemically to evade testing. Then, the anti-doping agencies set out to design tests to detect any form of drugs or proteins in that family, only for another to emerge. Nobody really knows what advantages different combinations of steroids, nutritional supplements and specialized diets can produce. Is it ethical to subject healthy people to the dosages and concoctions that athletes are likely to take? It does sound like a wild goose chase among scientists, often in the name of scientific development.

As such, there have been suggestions that medically supervised doping may be likely to be a better route. (See link here.)

What about surgical enhancement? Quoting a bioethicist at the University of the West of Scotland in Ayr: “Consider using skin grafts to increase webbing between fingers and toes to improve swimming capacity..” “These kinds of tweaks to our biology are likely ways that people would try to gain an edge over others.” I thought I see that only in the Harry Potter series?! So, as Gard says in his blog: “Enjoy it (sport) as it lasts.” (See link here.)

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