Olympics: The Race Goes Not to the Swift….

Aug 13, 2008 3:02pm

The Olympics have been going since Friday and the closest thing they’ve had to a scandal is that the little girl at the opening ceremonies was lip-syncing. Nobody’s been caught blood-doping or taking growth hormone.  Everyone marvels how gangly Michael Phelps is, but, hey, that’s the way he’s built — and it certainly is a thrill to watch him win. A couple of commentaries wonder if there’s a point in pulling athletes aside for a drug test if they do well.  One was an editorial in Nature — read it HERE — complaining that the tests are unscientific, easy for a smart cheater to pass. "…by not publishing and opening to broader scientific scrutiny the methods by which testing labs engage in study, it is Nature’s view that the anti-doping authorities have fostered a sporting culture of suspicion, secrecy and fear," write the editors. "Detecting cheats is meant to promote fairness, but drug testing should not be exempt from the scientific principles and standards that apply to other biomedical sciences." John Tierney, in his New York Times column, read the editorial and takes it another step: "What if we let athletes do whatever they wanted to excel?" "The system punishes some innocent athletes and rewards others with the savvy and the connections not to get caught. The more that the authorities crack down on known forms of enhancement, the more incentive athletes have to experiment with new ones — and to get their advice from black-market dealers instead of doctors." He concludes, "We all know the body can be improved. We all know Olympic athletes have the highest-functioning bodies in the world. They can call themselves natural, just as they used to call themselves amateurs, but at some point that claim may seem the most unnatural thing of all." Give these two arguments a read.  They certainly go against the pure ideal of sport.  Do they have a point?

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