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Dope-ocracy: An Olympian Pill Panic



This compelling programme provides an antidote to the obsession with drugs testing, distrust and suspicion we’ve seen in the run up to and during the London Olympics. Stating that the anti-doping crusade is both illogical and immoral, Professor Sam Shuster, a clinical scientist, argues: “you destroy some-one’s life and their career; you destroy the pleasure for all of us, all because of some stupid rule for an effect that’s never been proved.”

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Michael said:

I agree with some of the things you are saying but using drugs for a sporting event will tip the balance and is not allowed even if it was a very little effect on the body. Take 2 runners for examples, they both have the same skill set and physical stats but one of them takes steroids. Who do you think will win? The runner with steroids in his system will win 8/10 times in a race. While I do agree that athletes shouldn’t be banned for life but it will always be change the outcome of a race, boxing match, etc…

Zac Ilunga Jr said:

I don’t think drugs should be allowed in the sports indusrty because it inhance athlete strength so they can be better than their competiotors. Drugs should only be used for medical treatment not sports in my personal opinion.

pasindu said:

This documentary discusses how inaccurate some drug tests are. I think that even if athletes are found guilty of taking drugs, they shouldn’t be banned from a sport for life.

Anil Durmus said:

Although I think that drugs shouldn’t be used by athletes, its proven to effect the final result so I think that some punishments for example, a medal being stripped from them because of the use of drugs is way over the limit because it didn’t change the way they performed. Yes it is illegal, but it shouldn’t be an extreme punishment like a life ban.

Lara said:

Interesting to see a surprising opinion represented on this programme. I was unaware that some specialists believe that there is no proof that sports drugs enhance performance. I have never seen the topic of the effect of sports drugs debate or discussed publicly. With only two interviewees the film might have been more effective if it was shorter, as the contributors began to repeat themselves.

Isa said:

I wonder if this belief; that building red blood cells through drug use is no more damaging to health than going to high altitudes to achieve the same thing is commonly held among the medically educated. It certainly seems there should be more medical analysis of the drugs and less condemnation.

Katrina Desportes said:

This documentary has really highlightes how pointless some tests actually are. Given that these is no medical evidence which suggests that a drug can enhance an athletes chances of winning. Following this documentalry I feel that no athlete should be banned from their sport for life, if they are found to have taken a drug of any kind.

katrina desportes said:

This documentary has really highlighted how pointless some of the drug tests actually are, given that there is no medical evidence which suggests that a drug can enhance an athletes chance of winning. Following this documentary, I feel that no athlete should be banned from their sport for life if they are found to have taken a drug of any kind.

Germaine Patrick said:

Very good piece,but once again camera wok could be better.Camera shots needed to be more angled and they was a it of head room in one of the interviews,could have been a bit more detailed shots,but overall a good piece and was very informative,but together well.

Sean said:

The question that is on my mind is – are these drugs largely safe? For the ones that aren’t there is certainly the right of the associations to ban these dangerous drugs so that other less able contenders don’t feel forced to take the drug to match the abilities of drug using athletes.
A point that is important to understand is that protein is a drug, carbohydrates are drugs however these are safe to consume. It is however the dangerous drugs that must be banned for protection against athletes who are undecided weather to take banned substances or not.

On a different note civil liberties eg. right to refuse urine samples, should not be infringed upon.

Ekanem said:

I have never really thought about the point put forward that there really has not been any proof of the enhancement capabilities of the substances taken and when you consider the fact that one can achieve some of these enhancements by other non medical means. It would appear logical in this hi-tech world that we live in that they should all be allowed to take the enhancements. In my opinion the drugs alone do not do the work, the athlete still has to train he can not win a race with no work and just the drug alone! I wonder what the effect would be if 10 runners were allowed to take the same drugs and then run a race what would the result be. Would it be the one with the most drugs in him or the one who had trained the best and was at his optimum on the day. I believe that someone on drugs could still loose a race to someone who had not taken drugs and then what? I think that there is more to all this than meets the eye.

Tatiana Andrianasolo said:

i am completely agree, the sport means to use our self effort, to take a challenge , and any one needs take drug specialy in sport, it is not sport’s value.

Randolph said:

I think that the medicalisation of the idea of a ‘level playing field’ is more the problem. I mean that there is a distortion of what pharmacological effects really are which is forced into play by the primary objective to regulate, regulate, regulate – at all costs.

Confused said:

I was against performance enhancing drugs before, now I’m just confused.
I hadn’t realised that there was little or no evidence of the long term effects of these drugs.
Being banned for life from a sport just for taking prescribed or over the counter medication is ridiculous. Ok, so an athlete is ill and needs to take something to help their recovery, but can’t because it is on the ‘banned list’, so they don’t recover in time to compete, what have they been training for?

SuZanne said:

So in other words, all athletes who performed faster or better than the rest are automatically guilty of cheating until they prove themselves innocent.

At some point they would just call it quits and not bother competing. What would be the point if any win they had was always considered cheating.

SMP said:

There are so many agents on the banned list you cannot possibly test them all. Even the big 3 – EPO, Steroids, and Stimulants – are arguably equivocal in their ergogenic properties at best. The piece raises some interesting philosophical questions and provokes thought, no doubt. However, if there is a rationale for banning some of these substances it’s to protect athletes from doing stupid things! In the quest for supremacy and a gold medal athletes will do just about anything and the risks taken are inversely proportional to the athlete’s age. No athlete would take these drugs in prescribed doses, after all if some is good then more is better? So, perhaps more than anything doping rules protect athletes from subjecting themselves to harm. I have seen firsthand what steroid abuse does to bodybuilders and that’s just the start. I realize that not everything on WADA’s list causes harm, but why not set the bar high and ban it all rather than condone trying a few ‘light’ drugs and not others? Athletes/coaches continue to push boundaries, if we allow free access to any/all drugs there will be health consequences for the athletes!

Dan Smith said:

@Vivita Absolutely, that’s because there are many substances which are used as masking agents, its all very clear, transparent and above board.

BT said:

Interesting programme that actually supports my skepticism regarding performance enhancing drugs. My background is in exercise metabolism and as an exercise scientist, I am constantly researching methods and strategies to optimize human performance.

Sports pharmacology is an interesting field, which I believe has little clinical research-based funding that doesn’t have conflict of interests.

Dr. Shuster’s example of utilizing EPO to enhance performance sounds plausible, but from my understanding of environmental physiology, it does not hold up. The physiological adaptation to high altitude is an increase in red blood cells (RBCs) but a reduction in plasma volume also occurs. This ultimately reduces performance at altitude compared to sea level performance measures. Furthermore, it turns out that training high and competing low results in an athlete losing the advantage of increased RBC concentrations, because they increase their plasma volume again diluting their blood back to baseline values. These adaptations occur in a matter of hours from returning from altitude. The concern with EPO administration is the increase in blood viscosity, which may increase the probability of cardiovascular issues. Once again, I am not an environmental physiologist but this is what I have learnt about this specific topic.

I’m not sure what Dr. Shuster’s background is aside from being a clinical scientist, but his EPO example, I feel isn’t strongly supported.

Another question I have is why is the programme only hinting about athletic apparel providing performance benefits? Gear can be more easily provided and standardized than pharmaceuticals, since drug-organism interactions can vary. Just a thought.

My final thought of this programme is, it does present a controversial topic but does little to provide much scientific evidence to support its own claims. As a scientist, I am more inclined to review the associated literature, both basic and clinical research articles, to make a conclusion.

Vivita said:

@Dan Smith: the list of banned substances does not care about risk to health at all. a nasal spray is sold without prescription over the counter but if you are an athlete, you can be penalized for using one.

damy said:

@ Dan Smith. Don’t get me wrong on the clothing issue, but my point is athletes are also been banned for using a highly performace clothing, which is sad and even now its been looked into the paralympics, so if the doping agencies are saying doping are as bad as using a high tec clothing to enhnace their performace where do we draw the line.

Dan Smith said:

@damy – high tec clothing doesn’t cause permanent damage to your health, performance enhancing drugs do.

@Sarah K – You haven’t heard the view before because it is utter nonsense.

@John Howard – are you really saying you’ve been itching to make the point that performing enhancing drugs don’t work? I don’t think you’ve not made that point because of lack of balls, but because you know its gibberish.

@Vivita – It’s not much of a choice though, you basically reduce high level sport to a contest between which athletes are prepared to risk their health the most.

@J. Oliver – you do understand how drugs testing works right? its very straightforward and not exactly a massive burden on a sportsperson

@Josh – what are you on about? :D I don’t understand your point, are you saying an athletes physical body plays no part in their success??

thenews247info | Just another WordPress site said:

[…] PRLog (Press Release) – Aug 07, 2012 – WORLDbytes, the online Citizen TV station, has today launched a programme lambasting the criminalisation of sports-people who take drugs to enhance their performance. In Dope-ocracy, Professor Sam Shuster, a clinical scientist argues that: “you destroy someone’s life and their career; you destroy the pleasure for all of us, all because of some stupid rule for an effect that’s never been proven.”The vitriol aimed at sports-people who take drugs is everywhere and the suspicion venomous, as doping allegations made against Chinese swimming sensation Ye Shiwen showed. Yet, this programme argues that this is a moral crusade based on fiction. The British Olympic Association has a 24 hour phone line dedicated to reporting doping during the Olympics and GlaxoSmithKline has spent $31 million on testing the Olympic contestants and set up a 24-hour drug testing operation. Yet they have done almost no work on the effects. As Professor Shuster explains: “To prove an effect you need a double-blind, randomised study of the end point – the winning…this disproportion between detection and effects tells you the real story – they are not interested in finding out the effect.” Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, author of The Tyranny of Health, who also features in the programme, points out: “We’ve reached a situation that to be a competitive athlete requires a higher level of surveillance than if you have been convicted of a criminal offense…sport is now used to morally regulate our lives.” This programme contends we should kick this Olympian pill panic out of the Games. The report “Dope-ocracy: An Olympian pill panic” is available to watch on WORLDbytes at:… […]

Josh said:

Just had to respond to the guy at the bottom here saying the arguments in the programme make no sense, they make the most sense I have ever heard, pills can’t possibly put people on the podium. Athletes do that and the whole doping thing I think demeans athletes as though they are just a physical thing rather than concious striving extraordinary individuals who should be supported in their decisions to go through so much to win.

Sonia said:

Blimey I hope you get the drug testing people to watch this and the media who seem so keen to jump down people’s throat and ban them literally at the whiff of anything drug related-literaly in fact.

J. Oliver said:

This is exceptional this is so important I can’t believe I haven’t heard these points made by the professor before- it makes so much sense and meanwhile great athletes are being put through so much policing and ludicrous testing when surely they have enough to contend with, they put themselves through hell and back to win. Thank you for making me re-think.

Vivita said:

Hopefully the officials will realize that sports drugs are good medicines that athletes should be allowed to the CHOICE to take. I really don’t see how different it is from the specialized training athletes are allowed, whose purpose is the same- push the natural abilities further.

Ricardo said:

I think Damy below makes right point everyone wants to be the best and does it matter which way they try and do it? Sam’s point that careers are runined is true.

John Howard said:

Very refreshing something I have suspected but not had the balls to argue so well done for making this. The Chinese girl case made me really angry-I know that’s China bashing as much as drugs obsession but the distrust is foul. Of course athletes want to do whatever they can including take stuff that helps little but I think the point is, its not the pills that get people the gold but their application dedication dtermination and so on which is truely inspiring.

Sarah K said:

Wow gobsmacking vid and not a view I have heard before, moral regulation point seems to me very important- I think we should question the whole idea of what is natural as that seems to be an obsession too. Anything chemical and swallowed is deemed beyond the pale which is rediculous. Afterall we are a load of chemical compounds aren’t we?

damy said:

There is more fact to this and in some ways,we could say the comments made are right. I mean are we actually 100% human, everyone looks for a way to enhance their ability either by using enhancing drugs or high tec clothing. Also the unfairness in the sport have blinded the officials in seeing the true meaning to the spirit of the olympics. Point is everyone deseerve the chance to find a way making them self as 100% as possible and if no side effect is been presented or documented then why cant they be used. I feel the laws guiding this rules needs to be reviwed.

Dan Smith said:

If these substances have no positive effect, then why do the athletes take them? Your argument makes absolutely NO SENSE.