peter lindsay

Physics Teacher,

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Debate: We need to clearly define performance enhancing in sport.

Drug use in sport is obviously a problem but I think the latest revelations regarding Lance Armstrong set a dangerous precedent. Is it OK to convict some one of a crime based on eyewitness reports when there is no material evidence that a crime has been committed? Does this mean I can lose my license, even though I passed a roadside breath analysis, if some one tells the police they saw me drinking?

We can only rely on objective testing. What exactly is performance enhancing? In the past there have been times when the use of amphetamine was acceptable and there have been times when training was considered cheating. Where do you draw the line between food, dietry supplements and performance enhancement? After all, if I'm paying someone millions of dollars to play a sport for me I want them to do everything in their power to win.

  • Oct 16 2012: The pure spirit of sports competition focuses on "me with what i have" against an "opponent with what he haves". A sword, a shield a slingshot and all the strength and skill both can execute with their bodies. This performance level needed for a good execution of a routine, Is reached through hard training, a good diet and the proper recovery time. I have been involved in sports and i know what is this about. This things that we call performance enhancement drugs will not make you a better player. Most of them increase your muscular mass and in some cases they just simply help you not to feel tired so you can train more time than you usually do. Or make you more aggressive to the point that you are more tolerant to the muscular pain or you are emotionally able o push harder at a point where your body would normally give up. But what performance enhancement drugs will never give an athlete is SKILL, the ability to move, to change directions in soccer, fake with your shoulders in soccer, or the eyes to see the good fastball in baseball.
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      Oct 16 2012: I agree with everything you say but I still can't see a clear line. Take baseball as an example. I will hit the fast ball better if I am more alert, so can I drink four cups of coffee and if thats OK can I take caffiene in tablet form? Can I chew coca leaves.? Can I drink four redbulls before I bat? Can I take a sleeping pill the night before the game?
      We all know taking dangerous amounts of steroids or growth hormone or taking EPO until your RBC count is so high your blood is like honey is dangerous and wrong but performance enhancment is a continuum from couch potato who does no training through training and diet control to outright cheating. Every single action an athlete takes to train enhances their natural ability. I would advocate that we need black and white tests and if you can fool them then good on you, its up to the testers to fix the tests. Athletes have always done everything they think they can get away with to win.
      "You can't win the Tour de France just drinking water." Fausto Coppi refering to amphetamin use in the 49 and 53 tours de France
      • Oct 19 2012: it's a brilliant question to start with and i agree it's very difficult to find the line. perhaps the best place to put the line relates to purpose - what is the purpose of whatever food or substance you are taking and what was the purpose of its creation? in the case of coffee it's a drink, and the caffeine is incidental. if you were to drink coffee which had had its caffeine content artificially increased then clearly the purpose is the drug effect and not the drink that is being sought, and same for the caffeine tablet. similarly i'd call cocoa leaves ok but sleeping pill not. eating a healthy diet ok but having your blood cleaned and re-injected not. drinking water ok but using a saline drip not. tests should show up any excesses, so we could allow 'normal' coffee consumption while banning it for performance-enhancing purposes.
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    Oct 19 2012: My buddy brought up a good point related to this a couple months ago. We're huge video-gamers, we take it seriously, play competitively, etc., and as such we watched The International which is a large tournament for the 5-player vs. 5-player real-time strategy game "DOTA 2". Winning the sometimes-hour-long games depends on the ability to plan ahead 30 minutes while constantly making millisecond decisions and executions based on what your teammate(s) or the enemy team did a quarter second earlier. Most players choose an avatar with one unit to control in the game, while it's possible to choose an avatar with several, all of which must be controlled in the same manner as the main one for best efficiency.

    Basically, it requires the focus of a chess player to win in the long-term and twitch reflexes to keep your head above water until you get there: Adderall is your friend.

    The aforementioned tournament is annual and played for $1,000,000. Viewership and participation increases exponentially year over year (with over a million people watching the 2 week tournament at any given time) and that got us thinking that video games tournaments are becoming more and more mainstream. At what point is the drug use involved with winning going to "hit the fan?"

    It's complicated because Adderall has a more legitimate medical justification than steroids in the Armstrong case, so the line between abuse and disability compensation is blurred.
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    Oct 19 2012: Your main topic title addresses performance hancing, but then only questions the use of "drugs". Performance enhancing comes in many other varieties. Technology creates new "tools" for athletes to enhance their sport's performance. Armstrong's times (and all the other riders) in his races would have been much different if they were riding a bicycle from the 1960's vs the bicycles they were riding when he won his titles. Track and field runners would still be running the same times they were 50 years ago if they didn't have the latest and greatest running shoes. Swimmers 50 years ago would have improved their times with full body hugging suits designed to reduce drag. The list goes on.

    Drug use by an athlete is just another way of enhancing EXPECTATIONS. But who's expectations are they?

    How about us...the "fans"? WE place "The Winners" on the top of the admiration list. WE bow in their presence, and marvel at how much better they are than just their peers. WE idolize them. Heck, I can't imagine why some of them might not want to "cheat".

    Let's put "sport" back in it's proper perspective. If you want to eliminate "performing enhancment", make all track and field athlets perform naked with no shoes. Give every batter in baseball the SAME size bat with the same dimensions and weight. Give all the bicycle riders the same bicycle and make them ride naked (OK, they can shave their heads if they want to to reduce wind resistance, but that's about it).

    Performance enhnacing will always be a factor in "sports" unless all atheletes are required to use the same "tools" of the sport at all times. Drugs aren't the only issue.

    And if the sports fans weren't so adamant themselves about "winning", the issue wouldn't exist in the first place. My life doesn't revolve around whether "my team" wins or loses a "game". It's supposed to be entertainment, not life and death.
  • Oct 16 2012: Something else. Most players who use performance enhancement drugs, call it steroids, growth hormone etc. Are not better than the average players that plays by the rules. I will leave you a link of the report made by a team of investigators about performance enhancement drugs in Major League Baseball. You will find out that most of the players involved in this were never considered superstars. Only a few of them had amazing numbers. But most of them had average performance and sometimes slightly above the average. Check this link: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3153646
  • Oct 22 2012: El problema del idioma
  • Oct 19 2012: I will be only to support anyone if they are there with their own strength. I do not see no problem to have a race or any kind of competition and win with my power, if not, if my opponent won over me because of pure practice I will respect him. However in International sport tournaments I do not think there is a pure competition. Once i was having a conversation with my friend, by the way he is physicist and chemist told a very funny story of tournaments. In the end he said, in the tournaments, IT IS NOT A COMPETITION OF SPORTSMEN, IT IS COMPETITION FOR DOCTORS. IT IS HOW THEIR DRUGS WILL NOT SHOW ON THE TESTS.
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    Oct 19 2012: we need to clearly define definitions
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      Oct 19 2012: That was done ages ago, "An exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something."
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        Oct 19 2012: really every time I look up something in the dictionary, it has multiple definitions for one word. Some don't even relate to the other definitions.
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    Oct 18 2012: It feels very much like Lance is the scape goat in a witch hunt with the sole objective of proving you have to dope to win the Tour. That is a bitter cul de sac and legally wobbly as Peter decries - they had to collect a mountain of paper and testimony to surmount negative tests - but that should have failed in the face of the negative tests.

    I have no problem with the use of enhancements if they do not destroy the body, but bring it to new levels of performance. I believe that Lance endured experimental cancer treatments to come out on the other side understanding his body with a depth very few attain - he knows himelf on a cellular level. He knew how far to push and took a lot of people with him - who could have jumped off the Lance train at any time (HIncapie, Liephiemer, etc.).

    Keeping cycling pure may be an illusion they sacrificed a sports icon for - not worth the price to me. Livestrong will suffer as an organization, but hopefully the past achievement of that organization will remain untarnished due to the huge amount of good produced there.

    My last thoughts are - maybe, a survivor gets stuck on moving forward at all costs, because they can't stop surviving and running forward. Perhaps Lance was stuck on living and winning for fear of dying: Not a bad concept but also not an excuse.
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    Oct 18 2012: What if there were two separate leagues, where one league plays as usual, but the second league allows use of steroids and other enhancement drugs?

    Just playing with the idea for now...
  • Oct 17 2012: II disagree with Fausto Coppi. If you win The Tour de France with the aid of banned substances, what are you proving? he is only proving that mutants can also win the Tour de France with some extra leverage on their side. Now there is another side of this story. Its name is "pressure". Sports are an industry and winning is everything. And athletes that feel they have no chance of winning are susceptible to the temptation of banned substances. As i said before many athletes that use steroids or EPO or whatever do not have a significant advantage over others. Using steroids is no guarantee of a gold medal or a trophy. We can take an example. From Baseball, Tony Gwynn, Tony Gwynn lifetime batting average .338 won 8 batting titles slammed 3141 hits. Tony Gwynn was a scientist of baseball. He studied videos of opposing pitchers and of himself every day. And trained hard on his swing mechanics.Never mentioned in steroid scandals. Not a single proven steroid user in baseball had or has a better lifetime batting average.
    The human body has a mechanical and physical limit, our duty as athletes is to push the body to its very limits and keep it there as long as we can. Enhancement substances distort the position and timespan of this limits, until we get to that point we are putting our career, our honor and our life on the line. I am sorry about Lance, i hope this is all a misunderstanding, he deserves a chance to come back and clean his name.