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Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The Science Behind Drugs in Sport

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In the 2012 Summer Olympics, we will see athletes do extraordinary things. In most cases, their achievements can be attributed to hard work and natural talent. But some will take drugs to enhance their performance. Written by top biochemist Chris Cooper, Run, Swim, Throw, CHEAT explains how people have cheated in the past, how they cheat now, and how they will cheat in the In the 2012 Summer Olympics, we will see athletes do extraordinary things. In most cases, their achievements can be attributed to hard work and natural talent. But some will take drugs to enhance their performance. Written by top biochemist Chris Cooper, Run, Swim, Throw, CHEAT explains how people have cheated in the past, how they cheat now, and how they will cheat in the future. From anabolic steroids to human growth hormone and the blood booster EPO, Cooper separates the truth from the hype, revealing what works and what doesn't work. More disturbing, the book argues that science has barely touched the surface of performance enhancement; there are many, many drugs yet to be discovered. Future developments are limited only by our imagination, research funding, and, of course, ethics. Moreover, recent findings of genetic enhancements on animals show it is possible to create super animals that far outperform their peers, suggesting that the top human athletes of the future may get there via gene manipulation. Cooper also argues that drug testing is of necessity imperfect and the rules arbitrary. And it cannot succeed, as it will always fight a losing battle between doper and tester. But the alternative--free access to all chemical tools--is not necessarily desirable. Just because a war cannot be won, does not mean that surrendering will lead to better sport. Cooper concludes that the problem of drugs in sports mirrors the problem of drugs in society--we may not like them, we may rage against them, but they are here to stay. No one should think there will ever be a time when athletes can be completely prevented from using chemistry to enhance their sports performance.


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In the 2012 Summer Olympics, we will see athletes do extraordinary things. In most cases, their achievements can be attributed to hard work and natural talent. But some will take drugs to enhance their performance. Written by top biochemist Chris Cooper, Run, Swim, Throw, CHEAT explains how people have cheated in the past, how they cheat now, and how they will cheat in the In the 2012 Summer Olympics, we will see athletes do extraordinary things. In most cases, their achievements can be attributed to hard work and natural talent. But some will take drugs to enhance their performance. Written by top biochemist Chris Cooper, Run, Swim, Throw, CHEAT explains how people have cheated in the past, how they cheat now, and how they will cheat in the future. From anabolic steroids to human growth hormone and the blood booster EPO, Cooper separates the truth from the hype, revealing what works and what doesn't work. More disturbing, the book argues that science has barely touched the surface of performance enhancement; there are many, many drugs yet to be discovered. Future developments are limited only by our imagination, research funding, and, of course, ethics. Moreover, recent findings of genetic enhancements on animals show it is possible to create super animals that far outperform their peers, suggesting that the top human athletes of the future may get there via gene manipulation. Cooper also argues that drug testing is of necessity imperfect and the rules arbitrary. And it cannot succeed, as it will always fight a losing battle between doper and tester. But the alternative--free access to all chemical tools--is not necessarily desirable. Just because a war cannot be won, does not mean that surrendering will lead to better sport. Cooper concludes that the problem of drugs in sports mirrors the problem of drugs in society--we may not like them, we may rage against them, but they are here to stay. No one should think there will ever be a time when athletes can be completely prevented from using chemistry to enhance their sports performance.

30 review for Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The Science Behind Drugs in Sport

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Stone

    “To summarise: the inhibition of an inhibitor leads to the activation of an inhibitor of an inhibitory pathway. This is the point where most people might be tempted to give up on biochemistry!” - Chris Cooper, "Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat..." Studying the effects of PEDs over the past 20 years, biochemist Chris Cooper provides an accessible analysis of the science of how sports doping works along with an objective view of the ethical, political and moral issues involved in their use. The first p “To summarise: the inhibition of an inhibitor leads to the activation of an inhibitor of an inhibitory pathway. This is the point where most people might be tempted to give up on biochemistry!” - Chris Cooper, "Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat..." Studying the effects of PEDs over the past 20 years, biochemist Chris Cooper provides an accessible analysis of the science of how sports doping works along with an objective view of the ethical, political and moral issues involved in their use. The first part of this book provides an historical overview of performance enhancement in sport and a discussion of the biological limitations of human performance. Cooper discusses the different classes and type of drugs, their performance boosting effects on human physiology and the detection methods used to catch the cheats. He delves into the science of which genes are responsible for performance and the transcendent future possibilities of gene manipulation. Of particular interest is the objective nature in which Cooper tackles the ethical and moral dilemmas that arise from athletes’ drug use. He looks at the question of what constitutes cheating - why can athletes boost performance in some areas via “technology doping”; better designed bikes, altitude training, or buoyancy swimsuits that have led to 43 world records being smashed in one event; para-olympians who purposefully break their own bones, sit on sharp objects or strangulate their testicles in a process called “boosting” in order to raise blood pressure and positively affect their performance, yet chemical assistance is prohibited.(Today’s runners are only 10% faster than those 100 years ago) From a larger perspective, why is there a pill available for everything in society, yet athletes are punished for wanting to gain a temporary edge in performance? Why are athletes’ careers destroyed with draconian punishments for substances that sometimes convey little to no performance advantage whatsoever? Providing an objective rationale for these questions and more, Cooper isn’t necessarily an advocate for a blanket legalisation of everything but he’s honest enough to concede that a war on performance enhancing drugs is as winnable as a war on drugs in society. This is possibly one of the best books breaking down the complexities of pharmacology and it’s effects on biochemistry, specifically that of elite athletes, I’ve read to date. Cooper makes the science accessible to the layman in an entertaining and informative way referencing a range of real world examples. An underrated work demanding on wider attention. Favourite Quotes “However HGH on its own cannot increase muscle protein synthesis or strength.14 Any weight gain appears to be mostly due to fluid retention. It is also not without other side effects including joint stiffness, muscle pain, and high blood pressure. So why do people keep taking it? I surmise two possibilities. The first relates to the fact that anything that can cost up to $20,000 a year on the black market has to be good for you; the athlete’s version of shopping therapy” “that we are in the same place scientifically as we were with testosterone in the 1980s. Maybe just like then the doping coaches and athletes are right and HGH really works; we scientists have just not been clever enough to devise the proper ethical experiment to show the effect. My suspicion is that in this case the scientists are right and the dopers are wasting their money—though it has to be said I would not be completely surprised to be proved wrong.” “However, he eventually relented and injected Virenque. Virenque rode the time trial of his life and responded: ‘God, I felt good. That stuff’s just amazing. We must get hold of it.’ In truth Voet, mindful of injecting his elite charge with an unknown mixture an hour before one of the most important races of his life, had swapped the magic potion for a sugar solution. As Voet said: ‘There is no substitute for self-belief. The bottom line was that there was no more effective drug for Richard than the public. A few injections of “allez Richard” going round his veins, a big hit of adoration to raise his pain threshold, a course of worship to make him feel invincible.’” “So how does caffeine work and why is it so much better than amphetamines at enhancing performance? There is a growing consensus that its ability to act at low concentrations as a brain stimulant is the key (chapter 3 ref. 14). In contrast to amphetamines, caffeine does not act to affect adrenaline levels. Instead it affects a different messenger molecule called adenosine.” “The popular press claim that we are on the cusp of a revolution in brain function, heralded by the breakthroughs of methylphenidate, modafinil and ampakines. Maybe there is something in Cephalon’s illegal marketing strategy after all? Just as an aspirin can cure our headache, a dose of methylphenidate will make even your ‘normal’ kid smarter in school while modafinil will get them into a top university. Yet as we have learnt throughout this book improving top performance is a very different story to removing an obstacle to performance.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Atila Iamarino

    Bastante informação, mas ficou devendo em muita coisa. O começo do livro é cheio de "poderia ser assim, quem sabe é" e induções de conclusões para as quais o autor dá pouca ou nenhuma evidência. Além disso, a narração do audiolivro tem várias pronuncias estranhas ou erradas de termos técnicos. Bastante informação, mas ficou devendo em muita coisa. O começo do livro é cheio de "poderia ser assim, quem sabe é" e induções de conclusões para as quais o autor dá pouca ou nenhuma evidência. Além disso, a narração do audiolivro tem várias pronuncias estranhas ou erradas de termos técnicos.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Denis

    The book decomposes processes within the human body, gives examples of disease/treatments from general medical practice and provides extensive information (backed up by links to researches & trials) about how those processes can be tweaked via substances and methods to get performance benefits in sport. Author have done a good job translating material to plain english and presenting information in a simple way. The book would be very useful for people interested in sports nutrition and understand The book decomposes processes within the human body, gives examples of disease/treatments from general medical practice and provides extensive information (backed up by links to researches & trials) about how those processes can be tweaked via substances and methods to get performance benefits in sport. Author have done a good job translating material to plain english and presenting information in a simple way. The book would be very useful for people interested in sports nutrition and understanding processes within the human body.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anni

    Very enjoyable overview of doping in sport. Nicely explains why it is NOT wise to take performance enhancing drugs.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Malak

    I sought this book in the hope to understand the anti-doping system in the world of sports since I had an internship in one of the laboratories that specialises in the field. Chris cooper truly knows how to deliver the complex science behind the doping and the anti-doping efforts in words that anyone can understand. The book went deep enough in the subject to please the simply interested and the expert. One of the great strength of the book is that no concept is given without multiple examples tha I sought this book in the hope to understand the anti-doping system in the world of sports since I had an internship in one of the laboratories that specialises in the field. Chris cooper truly knows how to deliver the complex science behind the doping and the anti-doping efforts in words that anyone can understand. The book went deep enough in the subject to please the simply interested and the expert. One of the great strength of the book is that no concept is given without multiple examples that not only clarify it but also lightens the tone of the book. It does not strain the mind with abstract theories about the reactional mechanisms in the body and help understand the reasoning of the doper and the dopee. I am in ho no position to say if the book was comprehensive or not but it was a great help when I wanted to understand why certain products were banned, how they worked on the body and their use in the sporting context. The book is great non fiction work about the biochemistry and the science of doping in sports.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maksym Sladkov

    If you ever wondered about the likelihood of Chris Froom using the gene doping or the reasons for Lens Armstrong doping empire not being discovered earlier, this book gives very clearly written scientific explanations conveniently adopted for layman in medical sciences. As an experimental physicist myself, I've found the chapter about different methods and techniques of blood analysis in particular fascinating and as a avid cyclist, the breakdown of the caffeine effect on the human performance w If you ever wondered about the likelihood of Chris Froom using the gene doping or the reasons for Lens Armstrong doping empire not being discovered earlier, this book gives very clearly written scientific explanations conveniently adopted for layman in medical sciences. As an experimental physicist myself, I've found the chapter about different methods and techniques of blood analysis in particular fascinating and as a avid cyclist, the breakdown of the caffeine effect on the human performance was in particular revealing, considering how much pseudoscientific explanations can be found on the pages of sports journals. Otherwise, next to the forbidden performance assisters, the book also covers the regular carbs, proteins, fats, supplements, etc. from the more scientific perspective than most of the books in the field.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Bateman

    Editorial gaffes abound (couldn't they bother correcting all the "with regard toS" and typos?), but this book offers a fine, circa-2012 survey of the "state of the art" in approaches to performance enhancement. Key takeaways: we know that caffeine, EPO, and most steroids work wonders; growth hormone's value is still unclear; various performance-enhancing genes have been identified but gene doping remains in its infancy; and much of your future success depends largely on who your parents were. Co Editorial gaffes abound (couldn't they bother correcting all the "with regard toS" and typos?), but this book offers a fine, circa-2012 survey of the "state of the art" in approaches to performance enhancement. Key takeaways: we know that caffeine, EPO, and most steroids work wonders; growth hormone's value is still unclear; various performance-enhancing genes have been identified but gene doping remains in its infancy; and much of your future success depends largely on who your parents were. Cooper's own prescriptions for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and other groups are modest; he argues for a more athlete-centered and reasonable approach to drug testing that doesn't waste time and energy trying to ferret out substances that either don't work (GH, perhaps) or are found in too many OTC drugs to tell us anything.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This was a fascinating of how elite athletes cheat from a scientist. I think the most sad part was how many of these methods have so little science and testing behind them, and how these athletes are damaging their bodies for very little likelihood of improved performance. It also was clear how effective testosterone and steroids are, especially for women. This book was very technical, I felt as I I should get freshman credit for completing the book. However, I appreciated the scientific approac This was a fascinating of how elite athletes cheat from a scientist. I think the most sad part was how many of these methods have so little science and testing behind them, and how these athletes are damaging their bodies for very little likelihood of improved performance. It also was clear how effective testosterone and steroids are, especially for women. This book was very technical, I felt as I I should get freshman credit for completing the book. However, I appreciated the scientific approach and the sensitivity of Cooper to the lives and pressures of these athletes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Nogueira

    good book for non-cientists to learn more about sports'chemistry and body behaviour good book for non-cientists to learn more about sports'chemistry and body behaviour

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barry Lopez

  11. 5 out of 5

    Catarina Soares

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brittneybook Book

  13. 5 out of 5

    Georgie

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Smith

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

  16. 4 out of 5

    Han OC

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gareth Lloyd

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Qualls

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sports_doc_fan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  22. 5 out of 5

    CJ

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jochem

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Flaws

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ben Smolinsky

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Koller

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Conn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Callum

  29. 5 out of 5

    Neil Kennedy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anne

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