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My Favorite Olympian

Watched the women's marathon yesterday and was (as always) impressed that humans can even DO that, running 10 MPH for 2 and a half hours straight. Mizuki Noguchi made it look easy for more than 20 miles; to me, that seems like quite a distance on a bike, much less running it all. Even more impressive was the historical factoid that the women's time per mile this year was 1.5 minutes shorter than the time per mile by the men in 1896. Spyridon (Spiros) Louis won it by running a 7 minute miles back then; now it's about 5 minutes 30 seconds.

And I think I've seen next big thing in marathon runners — the PPAR-delta gene of the Marathon Mouse. Genetic engineering in sports seems like a natural testbed for genetic engineering in humans. If you think about it, the abuse of steroids, steroid precursors, growth hormones, and all the other pharmaceutical tricks may have therapeutic uses, but the bleeding edge of biochemical enhancement is definitely in sports. Downing pills or taking injections is nothing compared to just changing, say, a runner's DNA.

Does it still count as doping if your own body produces the chemicals?


( 5 sutras — Your wisdom )
Aug. 24th, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
See? Now that's just scary.
Aug. 24th, 2004 08:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, it does
There's been some controversy over 'blood-doping,' where an athlete will 'donate' some blood and have it transfused back into his body just before an event. It's frowned upon.

Also... if your drug check comes back positive, doesn't matter *where* the dope came from, you're outta there. VIZ the poor athlete with the allergies. She was sent home.
Aug. 24th, 2004 04:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Yeah, it does
See, now, this is where we disagree. I think that if your body produces a natural hormone, that's different than injecting it. They aren't "dope" at all.

Otherwise, the IOC and other sporting bodies will eventually get into the body of saying what the genetic or biochemical parameters of athletes have to be. Which is the same as defining the car you race in formula one or something.

That way lies madness. If a particular ethnic group falls outside the Olympic norm for a particular hormone, you'd have to disqualify them. Can you imagine telling the Kenyans that they are genetically over-qualified to run the marathon?
Aug. 25th, 2004 08:51 am (UTC)
Re: Yeah, it does
I believe the drug tests specifically target known drug profiles. If the body produces (naturally) an overabundance of 'strength hormone' or 'running hormone,' the screens won't catch it because they're looking for metabolites of certain listed 'artificial' drugs. Natural hormones don't have quite the same profiles; which is part of why they're notoriously difficult to catch when abused.

BTW I don't disagree with you. I figure that athletes should take all the advantages they can get. Of course if we just scotch the rules I suspect that athletes will burn out after a while and come to depend only on the methods that won't destroy their bodies. Too much.

(btw did you notice that pretty much all the gymnasts had surgery scars?)

I understand that the drugs are forbidden as a way of keeping the playing field level; but let's look at the bodies here. With just natural predisposition to a sport and some decades of intense training, we've got swimmers with shoulders like billboards and marathoners with bodies like concentration-camp survivors. Even without drugs I can't dream of competing with the natural abilities of these people. The forces we apply over time will always have a greater effect than the short-term gain of drug use.
Aug. 25th, 2004 10:57 am (UTC)
( 5 sutras — Your wisdom )

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