Recently, Lance Armstrong was officially charged with doping offences by the USADA. Although Armstrong claims to have never taken any drugs during his sports career, it does make you wonder: Isn’t this Anti-Doping witch hunt getting a little out of proportion?
Chris Cooper, biochemist, sports scientist and the writer of ‘Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat’ argues the war against gene doping is an unwinnable one, nor can it be justified in every way. Why, for example, is it acceptable for a cyclist to ride a bike that is designed to be better than the opponents’ bikes, but can’t he do the same for his own body? Why is it allowed to train at altitude but not to take a drug to mimic the effect?
As a biochemist, Cooper also explains how performance-enhancing drugs work, and the challenges of testing for them. Drawing upon genetics research on rats and mice, Cooper suggests that by altering the human genome, there might be many ways of improving human performance. Still, Cooper does not believe that gene doping should become an accepted part of athletics, he says in an interview with the Guardian: “I’m certainly not one of these people who think everything should be legalised: so you would have a Super Olympics for the gene dopers and athletes on steroids running alongside the regular Olympics. That’s a nonsense, because the sponsors wouldn’t go for two events and only one of them would be interesting.”
Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat is available in the UA Library