USADA's chief science officer publishes editorial on anti-dope testing in sport: History and science

Lance Armstrong's doping scandal may be considered by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as "more extensive than any previously revealed in professional sports history," but a new editorial in The FASEB Journal by USADA's Larry D. Bowers shows that it is clearly not the first. From early athletes who used rat poison and heroin to fight fatigue to modern Olympians who perform under the ever-present shadow of high tech hormones, stimulants and steroids, this editorial lays out both the history and the science behind athletic "doping" scandals. Bowers traces modern antidoping regulation to tragic accidents such as the death of British cyclist Tommy Simpson in the 1967 Tour de France, a race then notorious as a pharmaceutical free-for-all.

"With a steady stream of new therapeutic agents—from stimulants to steroids to protein hormones—with potential for abuse in sport entering the marketplace, antidoping scientists and collaborators are continually developing new approaches for detection of prohibited substances and methods," wrote Bowers in the editorial. "The challenge of developing and validating methods for the long list of prohibited substances and methods is daunting, requiring analytical skills, a thorough understanding of and pharmacokinetics, and an appreciation of and endocrinology."

In the editorial, Bowers describes how doping athletes have progressively employed more sophisticated techniques and tools to avoid detection by increasingly comprehensive tests. This leads to his coverage of emerging areas of medicine which may lead to entirely new classes of performance enhancers, such as . He also covers the various actions taken by legislators and athletic committees to ensure fair competition. The editorial is available to the public at no charge and can be read in its entirety at http://www.fasebj.org/content/26/10/3933.full.

"We often think of medical breakthroughs as bringing cures to those who are sick," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of The , "but for some who are in peak physical condition, these breakthroughs offer a way to extend the human body beyond its limits. In many cases, however, these temporary gains in physical performance carry hidden health risks - such as heart disease or cancer - that strike after the performance years have passed."

More information: The editorial is available to the public at no charge and can be read in its entirety at www.fasebj.org/content/26/10/3933.full

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anti-doping expert warns cheating athletes

Sep 15, 2011

Professor David Cowan, Director of the Drug Control Center at King’s College London, has warned athletes who take prohibited performance-enhancing substances that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be ...

Time to address stimulant abuse on our campuses

Sep 06, 2011

Universities and colleges need to do more to protect young adults from the dangers of illicit stimulant use and to educate them about harms, argue the authors of an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

The human race evolved to be fair for selfish reasons

Sep 19, 2014

"Make sure you play fairly," often say parents to their kids. In fact, children do not need encouragement to be fair, it is a unique feature of human social life, which emerges in childhood. When given the o ...

Non-stop PET/CT scan provides accurate images

Sep 18, 2014

Siemens is improving PET/CT imaging and data quality while reducing radiation exposure. The Biograph mCT Flow PET/CT scanner is a new positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system that, ...

Experts: Chopin's heart shows signs of TB

Sep 17, 2014

The preserved heart of composer Frederic Chopin contains signs of tuberculosis and possibly some other lung disease, medical experts said Wednesday.

User comments