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How Athletes Dope At The Olympics... And Get Away With It.

How Athletes Dope At The Olympics... And Get Away With It.

It's estimated that up to a third of the athletes that we'll watch at the Olympics, will be dopers. So how do you dope and get away with it?

How Athletes Dope at the Olympics... And Get Away With it.

Thursday, August 4, 2016 - 14:15

Alistair Jennings, Contributor

(Inside Science TV) -- Most athletes who dope get away with it. It's estimated that up to a third of the athletes that we'll watch at the Olympics, will be dopers. And yet less than two percent of athletes were caught last year. So how do you dope and get away with it?

If you're searching for strength, anabolic steroids will increase it, by up to forty percent. So they're popular, so popular that they account for two-thirds of doping violations.

These molecules boost testosterone in your system, but then they show up in your blood and your urine. So that's what the anti-doping agency's test for. But they can only recognize chemical structures that they've seen before, not designer drugs with the same function, but unknown structures.

When it comes to endurance, muscles need oxygen; oxygen carried by the blood. EPO and drugs like it, increase maximum blood oxygen by around seven percent. They up the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. Now EPO can be detected in your urine, unless you microdose!

This is a doping technique that works even mid-competition and it's simple. Take a speck of EPO, one ten-thousandth of a gram before you go to bed, and then drink a liter of water. By the time they can test you in the morning, the drug has broken down in your blood, and the water dilutes your urine, leaving no trace of the EPO.

Nowadays, we've linked genes to almost all aspects of sport, to strength, to endurance, and even sporting mentality. Today's technology lets us modify genes, but it can't tell us if genes have been modified.

Dopers are always ahead of the curve. These days we can test for almost all chemical doping, but not for gene doping. Now this is sports Wild West, it's dangerous, it's unknown, but the potential rewards are massive.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Alistair Jennings headshot, lab.

Ali Jennings has his PhD in neuroscience from University College London.