The Chemical Games; Building the Elite Athlete; Scientific American Presents; by Glenn Zorpette; 8 Page(s)
At this year's Olympic Games, a decades-old tradition will play out between the lighting of the torch and the closing ceremonies. This will be the testing of the urine, in which scientists armed with millions of dollars' worth of state-of-theart instruments will look for obscure molecules in incredibly small concentrations signaling the recent use of one or more banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Unless a superstar athlete is caught cheating, not many spectators will give more than a passing thought to this behind-the-scenes struggle. But as surely as athletes will pit themselves against one another, some will also match wits with doctors, technicians and sports officials. A few athletes will probably be caught, triggering an appeal and arbitration process that will unfold well away from the public eye and under the aegis of officials with little or no formal education in physiology, pharmacology, or indeed any branch of science or medicine.