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Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or the dehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Unfortunately, the role of science in sport is often synonymous with doping, such is the nature of international elite sport these days. Growing skepticism, discontent and controversy cast a shadow of elite performance, particularly in the Tour de France, which is scrutinized like no other event.

We've tried to cover doping in sport as comprehensively as possible. Below are some of the articles we've featured in the past year, both news-related doping stories, and some insights into the physiology of drugs - how they work, and how much they work?


The Floyd Landis - Lance Armstrong affair
Cycling - the doping fight continues
General doping stories


Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear your views on the use of NSAIDs in distance running. It seems common for amateur ultra marathon runners here in South Africa to use NSAIDs before and during races, although my running partner, a physician, tells me that (a) it can lead to fatal kidney failure and (b) it's probably on providing a placebo effect anyway.

I'd be interested to hear your views on:
(1)Are they dangerous? Can hydration be sufficiently controlled to manage this risk?
(2)Can they help to stop leg pain such as knee pain and general muscle fatigue?
(3)If so, why is the reduction of muscle fatigue, or muscle/joint pain seen as a form of performance enhancement, so that NSAIDs would be illegal, performance enhancing drugs? NSAIDs don't appear to be illegal...
(4)If they were legal, and they helped, and they were safe, when and under what regimen should they be taken?
(5)I've googled this extensively and have found very little, apart from some discussion room chat on a Comrades site. It would appear that this matter, well known to the South African community, is being ignored by the organisers of major events, when I think, due to the extensive use of these drugs, those organisers should be strongly discouraging their use. In fact many runners are probably not aware of the dangers of NSAIDs which are often commonly available in their own medicine cabinets
(6)Are there any exceptions when they might be used? i.e. a nagging injury, ITB etc, when an athlete could take a couple of drugs the night before a race?
(7)Is there any evidence of NSAIDs being used by elite athletes? How extensive is this? Is it common knowledge or something that elite athletes don't talk about. Do they consider it cheating?
(8)(and this might be a seperate issue altogether!)What "muti" is contained in elite athletes' water bottles during those big city marathons when they're seperately laid out for them..? NSAIDs?

tim newman said...

i cant find anywhere else to put this but I havea sinking feeling that we are looking at the new wave of drug cheats in our beloved sport. I have only circumstantial evidence of this but it is compelling. I am referring to the late 20 something and early 30 something female athletes- mostly sprinters, who have shown quite remarkable improvements between 2008 and now- but more markedly 2009 and now. That in itself may seem like a long bow, but when you've been poureing over stats for 30 years it sticks out like a sore thumb. The normal trait is that an athlete seems a junior prodigy and promises much, but more often than not doesnt deliver. The odd one does, and also the odd junior champ comes back in their mid to late 20s and realises some of that potential. For those its (improvement in later years or early years) not so difficult to believe. BUT, when the athlete has always been an also ran right through their careers, and just 2 years ago seemed to be getting slower by the month, THEN all of a sudden start to post consistently outstanding times- the suspicion rises. Couple that with marked physical appearance changes and the interest is piqued. Some performances from several who exhibit those traits last year, plus recent early season form this year adds to the story. And why is it just the women?- a statistical abberation?...
like i said, if ther was some history of world class performance then it wouldnt stand out so much...but without exception so far- this hasnt been the case. I would not be at all surprised if this period is the beginning of another "clear"..or similar. For the doubters- please go back and do the stats for these traits and investigate my point, keep an open mind, and see if you agree. ive been eating and breathing athlete bios and performances since under the age 10 (ok ok im a nerd for this stuff)..and now im 40. the benefit is that during that time ive learnt what the stats "could mean"..so to speak. and believe we are seeing it all over. i hope i am wrong and we are just seeing the wave of naturals finally take over where the drugs left off (some decade or two ago)- but frankly if this was the case it should be occurring for those who are in their late teens, early to mid 20s. Not the over 30s.....that was ONLY when drugs were prevalent.