Elite Athletes and Doping
Formal doping charges lodged against Lance Armstrong have again brought attention to the role of performance enhancing drugs in elite athletic competitions. And no doubt those questions will continue surfacing when the 2012 Summer Olympic Games open in London at the end of July.
Dr. Steven Ungerleider has spent a lot of time trying to find answers about performance enhancing drugs in sports. He has researched athletes and doping and is the author of Faust’s Gold: Inside the East German Doping Machine. East Germany certainly had a reputation as a hotbed of doping in athletics, but the United States has had its share of controversy, too (remember the BALCO drug scandal?).
Ungerleider says the Olympics has a good drug testing system in place, but smart athletes and good science can stay one step ahead of the system with the development of drugs that are increasingly more difficult to detect. He says the lure of lucrative endorsement deals for medal winners, and the hair’s breadth margin that can separate the performance times of truly elite athletes, can entice athletes who count on keeping their bodies healthy to put them at potential risk by the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Will there ever be a truly drug-free Olympics? Will the International Olympic Committee ever institute a “one strike and you’re out” drug tolerance policy? Click the player on this page to hear more from Dr. Ungerleider.