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

October 12, 2012

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."

Explore further: As Armstrong case unfolds, experts describe doping's harms

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

Related Stories

As Armstrong case unfolds, experts describe doping's harms

October 11, 2012
(HealthDay)—In the wake of new allegations around Lance Armstrong's involvement in blood doping, experts are reminding the public of the devastating impact these substances can have on an athlete's health.

Time to address stimulant abuse on our campuses

September 6, 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

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.