Faster, Higher, Stronger – A Chemically-Enhanced Super Olympics?

11Jul08

 

The subject of doping at the Olympic Games is a huge issue. The shadow of drugs loom over the event with Justin Gatlin, former world champion and 100m gold medalist from Athens 2004, currently banned after failing a drugs test. Recently, the entire Bulgarian weightlifting team were withdrawn from participating in the Beijing Games after testing positive for a banned substance. This issue that has clouded the Games in recent years suggests that the prospect of a drug-free Olympics seems doubtful.

The Olympic stage should be kept as a drug-free event, but maybe it’s time to give athletes using performance enhancing substances a stage to perform on. Modern drugs, such as Human Growth Hormone, have been enhanced so that they are becoming more difficult to detect. Yet, the testing techniques are being improved and it is possible to detect when using the correct tests. The main problem is that the testers are often one step behind the developers.

If athletes that use performance enhancing substances were given a stage to demonstrate their ability, then maybe they wouldn’t consider ‘cheating’ to enter the Olympics. A competition that had no restrictions would truly test the human body to its limits. I think everyone would be interested in how fast it is physically possible to run and how much the human body could possibly lift? This would clear the way to allow the Olympics to become a drug-free event testing the ‘un-altered’ human body to its limits. 

Testing at Olympics would still have to remain strict yet the procedures are becoming more stringent. Recently Tyson Gay has run the fastest 100m of all time. Yet his time of 9.68s was not a world record as the following wind was too strong. The United States Anti Drugs Agency have used him in ‘Project Believe’, promoting the American as a ‘natural’ role model. Gay submits six blood and urine samples a fortnight, which allows a detailed profile of his chemical balance to be built. Taking drugs would demonstrate a drastic deviation from his baseline profile.

Gay, world record holder Usain Bolt and former record holder Asafa Powell could provide a memorable showdown in this years Beijing Games. The last real showdown in the mens 100m was in the 1988 Seoul Olympics between Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson. Twenty years ago Ben Johnson was infamously stripped of his gold medal and his 9.79 world record time after testing positive for steroids.

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