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Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

Posted August 03, 2016 2:26 PM by HUSH

You might remember the training montage from Rocky IV, featuring Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago. While Rocky is forced to train in a barn in the midst of Soviet winter, Drago is trained under the auspices of the USSR sports program, which includes sports scientists, doctors, high tech training equipment, and steroids…lots of steroids.

Turns out the real Russian sports program is a lot like the training montage from Rocky IV. As of this writing, nearly 1/3 of the athletes Russia planned to send to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio have been declared ineligible. This comes on the heels of two years of investigations that have concluded that the Russian government was participating in state-sponsored athletic doping. From the top of the Ministry of Sport all the way down, every mechanism possible to cover this up was used—intimidating laboratory technicians, swapping samples via covert operations, bribes, delaying or preventing tests, losing or opening packages destined for labs.

It estimates that at least 15 Russian medalists at the 2014 Olympics were doping. The International Olympic Committee decided that only Russian athletes that have been subject to international doping tests would be allowed to compete, despite other athletic commissions’ decisions to outright ban Russian athletes for the time being.

Olympic events aren’t won on the field or at the Olympic venues. Not shown are the years or decades of work to become the elite of the sporting world. Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have an extensive history of helping athletes push themselves just a little bit further, and even a 1% advantage at the upper echelons of athletics is enough to elevate an athlete above their peers. (First doping offence? 1968 Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, who had drank a few beers prior to his events.)

This year new technologies and instrumentation are being used to screen blood and urine samples from competitors in Brazil. This includes triple quadrupole mass spectrometers that can detect steroid amounts down to picogram-per-millilitre resolutions; older gas chromatography systems were less sensitive and couldn’t detect below nanograms.

Gene doping—injecting DNA strands into tissue so that it synthesizes performance hormones such as erythropoietin (EPO)—is getting its first test. Since DNA strands are typically introduced via a virus, the first part of the EPO test looks for delivery viruses. The second part of the test requires sequencing the athlete’s genes, and finding pattern anomalies that would be the result of gene doping.

When new PEDs are developed, which is common when athletes or their sponsors have deep pockets, the doping tests must play catch up. Some PEDs are known but don’t have tests available, or other PEDs aren’t even yet known. So while the list of banned substances grows longer for each Olympics, there is always a margin for doping that is just beyond testing capabilities. This is why many dopers are found years after the fact, because their samples have been tested retroactively.

There is the hope that one day in place of sample testing, complete biometric profiles can be used to track an athlete’s physiology. Until that day is a reality, there will always be athletes pushing their limits with PEDs.

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#1

Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/04/2016 1:26 PM

Rhythmic dancing training in Russia....

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Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/05/2016 4:46 PM

She reminds me of . . . .

Up next . . . . . swim vehr.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CaMUfxVJVQ

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#2

Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/04/2016 11:02 PM

Since we have the normal Olympics and the Special Olympics I think we should have the Super Olympics where it's legal to dope yourself out of your mind while competing.

I want to see a guy (or gal) bench press the back end of a Greyhound bus along with Super Athletes that can outsprint a Cheeta and let's not forget the Lance Armstrong Bike races where guys do dragster like smoking burnouts while getting up to speed!

Forget the honesty and integrity of all natural competition. I wanna see how juiced a person can get and still survive long enough to collect their $20 medaion at the end!

You know you'd watch it too.

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Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/09/2016 8:04 AM

There's a sci-fi story about this - it starts with one of the competitors killing himself by running through (and I mean that literally, folks) the hordings and into the stands because he's so hyped (or whatever) that he doesn't understand the need to stay on the tract and run in a circle. His body just keeps pumping those legs until there is nothing left - again, quite literally.

Still, I think a Dopers Olympics could be interesting.

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Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/10/2016 11:12 AM

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Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/15/2016 1:45 PM

Do you ever wonder what happens to people like this when they get older? Jack LaLanne handled it pretty well by all appearances. But he was more of overall fitness and not just cartoonish body building.

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#7

Re: Why Olympics Doping is Here to Stay

08/16/2016 8:32 AM

It occurred to me that a truly amateur Olympics would also be interesting. There's been a lot of talk on the radio here about GB's race up the medals table and its cause. Everyone has said "It's the lottery money", which is partly true, but really it's because elite sportspeople are no longer amateurs. Their full time job is to get better at what they do, aided by coaches, nutritionists, masseurs/eusses, astrologers (ok, maybe not those); you get my drift. They don't have full time earning jobs and practice out of working hours - at least most of them don't. The GB gold medal-winning archer in 2012 was a true amateur, to the point that GB Sport wouldn't pay for his transport to London, I believe.

The IOC set the tone for this "arms race" by bringing in the Eddie the Eagle rule where all competitors had to reach a minimum standard.

So three Olympics: Drugged, Clean Elite, Clean Amateur - times two for the ParaOlympics.

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