Beijing Olympics Face Major Health Issues,including Doping

Come August, one of the more popular activities worldwide will be  watching,directly or indirectly, the greatest sports event in the world. Already, concerns have been raised about the air pollution in Beijing, with the Australian contingent reportedly delaying their arrival till just before their respective events, thereby giving the opening ceremony a miss.

To their credit, the Chinese authorites have spared no effort in ensuring that the skies will be clear. Some of the measures include allowing cars ending with even numbers on their registration plate to be permitted on the roads on even dates. This enables 1 million vehicles to be off the road at any given day!

The Shenyang Olympic Stadium is the main venue for the Olympics Aug 8-24, 2008

The Shenyang Olympic Stadium is the main venue for the Olympics Aug 8-24, 2008

One of the potentially explosive health issues which will involve the athletes is the question of doping. Already, during the Sydney 2000 Olympics, some high-profile athletes were caught using prohibited performance-enhancing drugs.

Marion Jones used prohibited substances and was finally caught a few years later

Marion Jones used prohibited substances and was finally caught a few years later.

The most highly-publicised case was that of sprinter Marion Jones who was finally banned,  jailed for 6 months (she is currently serving her term) and asked to return the 5 Olympic medals which she won in 2000.

Usage of performance-enhancing drugs is by no means confined to the Olympics as professional athletes have been caught in other sports as well.

However, I predict the Olympics will be a real testing-ground for two drugs whose usage is steeped in controversy on many counts.

The first is HGH (human growth hormone) which builds strength, bone density and endurance,  minus the side-effects of steroids  like what was used by Marion Jones. It is difficult to detect by conventional doping tests because it is a naturally-occuring substance in the body and, more important, can be withdrawn well before the event without any apparent untoward effects and therefore avoid detection.

The other performance-enhancer is EPO (erythropoietin) which is also a naturally occuring hormone that causes increased production of red blood cells in the body, thereby increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood to the muscle tissues. Its like using high-octane petrol to boost your engine. The detection of EPO is complicated by the lack of accuracy of the current test methods. Marion Jones was tested positive at the Sydney Olympics but subsequently declared negative on the second test.

Whatever it is, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which is responsible for testing the specimens are confident detection techniques have improved.For more, click here.

4 responses

  1. […] doctor2008 wrote an interesting post today on Beijing Olympics Face Major Health Issues,including Doping. Here’s a quick excerpt: […]

  2. Australia Cognizant of Beijing Smog Danger, Sending Team from Hong Kong Training Camp for Event Only; Olympics President Asked to Remove Triathlon, Marathon, and Cycling Out of Deadly Smog

    Stephen Fox

    Because of concern about air quality, most of Australia’s track and field
    athletes will miss the Aug. 8 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing. With
    events beginning after Aug. 15, one week after the opening, Athletics
    Australia has chosen to hold its pre-Olympic training camp in Hong Kong.
    Competitors will then fly to Beijing three or four days before their events.

    “As many sports have said, China presents difficulties for athletes going in
    and being there for a period of time,” Athletics Australia national
    performance manager Max Binnington. “Anything more than five or six days and they inevitably end up with some sort of respiratory problem. So that was why many of the sports who don’t have to be in there early are choosing not to go in. And the outcome is that it’s almost impossible to go for the opening ceremony.” Australia’s triathletes will also miss the opening ceremonies for similar reasons. “Most of our athletes have accepted the decision straight away.”

    Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Bejiing organizing committee, stated that
    nations could be flexible for the opening ceremonies. “Every team can arrange its schedule according to its own plan,” Sun said. “As for the environmental problems, we’ve said many times that we’re confident that we can provide clean air during the Olympic Games.” A plan for Beijing’s
    notoriously clogged traffic include half of the city’s 3.3 million vehicles
    being banned each day, using an odd-even system from registration plates.

    “Generally those competing of the first day or the second day don’t march,
    standing up for eight hours a day or so before competition isn’t a medically smart thing to do,” AOC spokesman Tancred said. Australian and Hong Kong physicians have backed this up: see “Medical Experts Say Olympians Face Health and Performance Difficulties in Beijing’s Air Pollution from Hong Kong and Australian Physicians: Even Spectators Should Worry!” at:,
    an article by Tan Ee Lyn.

    Despite IOC President Jacques Rogge’s “Beijing air pollution cheer” a few
    days ago from Lausanne, Switzerland, in which he basically dismisses all of these concerns, I would like you to be aware of my latest articles, which we refer to by URL in order to bring you the photo essay on Beijing smog:

    [Title: Jacques Rogge and Olympic Committee: Please move Marathon, Triathlon, and Cycling out of Beijing’s Deadly Air Pollution! Carbon Monoxide, Industrial Pollution,Lead,Particulate Matter, Ozone]

    Please also see earlier article:

    [Title: Beijing’s Infernal Air Pollution Will Kill A Few Olympic Athletes;
    Most US Athletes Will Wear Masks While Preparing for Their Events]

    If you know Olympic athletes, physicians, sports enthusiasts, and
    internationally minded people, please forward this to them, and to friends
    and colleagues. If you comprehend that we could prevent a few athletes from inevitable expiration in the Beijing smog, you can also email Mr. Rogge directly:

    Stephen Fox, Contributing Editor Santa Fe Sun News

    Photo Essay: Close Up of Bird’s Nest Stadium Engulfed in Beijing Smog:

    One by my sardonic wise friend, James Fallows, Washington Editor Atlantic

  3. i love the olympics

  4. I wonder in the event that our Cold temperature all around the northern half of the globe is described as due to the lowered sunspot process, if a very continuous level of dropped sunspot process most probably shape our rate of global warming.

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