Scandal or scam? The science behind permitted and prohibited performance enhancers in sport
by Meaghan MacNutt
Location: Whistler Public Library
7:00pm to 8:30pm
Free & Open to the Public
Elite athletes spend years fine-tuning their bodies and minds for optimum performance. In addition to rigorous training, most athletes make use of countless other strategies to gain a competitive advantage. Some of these performance enhancers—including high tech equipment, clothing, and many nutritional supplements—are legal, socially acceptable and worth billions of dollars per year to the fitness industry. Other products and practices are banned, but continue to be used by athletes who are willing to risk everything for an edge over their competition. Chris Froome, arguably the best cyclist in the world, is an ambassador for a permitted performance enhancer called “The Turbine”. However, he now faces disgrace after drug tests indicate he misused a prohibited performance enhancer called Salbutamol (an asthma medication). Froome’s story begs a number of questions: How do these and other performance enhancers act on the body? Which ones actually work to enhance performance? Why are some used openly while others are banned from use? And how do anti-doping agencies attempt to keep sport clean, safe and fair? I’ll answer these questions by drawing from my expertise as an exercise physiologist, my experiences in national and international doping control, and some recent research by Quest students.