Welcome to the Science of Sport, where we bring you the second, third, and fourth level of analysis you will not find anywhere else.

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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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Science of the Olympics Part 2: Doping

Science of the Olympics presentation, part 2: Doping

So the other day I showed you the first part of a talk I gave to the general public, and it covered technology in clothing, specifically the swimsuits.

Today, it's part 2, and it deals with doping.  I tried to explain the biological passport concept, how it evolved out of the realization that traditional anti-doping methods were relatively ineffective, and that our insistence on finding a "smoking gun" in order to detect doping was compromising the fight against doping.  That is, we were naive to think that simply testing for a substance, either in or out of competition, was going to catch cheats and dissuade potential cheats.  It's just too easy to avoid detection, and the effect of drugs persists long after the drug is gone.

So, we have a paradigm shift in doping control, and it involves longitudinal testing in the form of a biological passport.  The concept is that rather than try to find the substance in the body, we can find its physiological effects.

The talk covered the basics, and then gave some examples of how the practice changes behavior, and more promisingly, performance.

It's by no means foolproof, and it's by no means the finished article.  And the evidence is part of a massive jigsaw puzzle, of which the slides below capture only a tiny part.  Of course, in my presentation, I explained much of the context, and so without that, the slides may seem incomplete.  The context includes, for example, our recent discussions on cycling performance, and on the legal process behind the passport - I couldn't get it all into the visuals.  Search the site for "biological passport" to find those pieces if you're hungry for more!

But it's hopefully a nice visual way of introducing the ideas to you.

More to come in the next few days, including the science of Oscar Pistorius.

And of course, Day 5 is underway, the recap comes later!