Telephone: +44 (0)1223 750638
Parliamentary Links Day 2012: Science and Sport (26 June 2012)
The annual Parliamentary Links Day has “become a big day in the Parliamentary calendar” said Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, Co-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Science & Technology. And to prove it there were over 200 delegates from all areas of the life sciences: academia, professional bodies, public and private sectors, MPs and representatives from the House of Lords.
So why was “science and sport” the topic for discussion? The London Olympics, of course!
The Society of Biology really brought home the message about Olympic achievements by applying a long strip of yellow tape along the floor and a second strip high along the wall. Everyone duly ignored this tape probably assuming it was something to do with Health and Safety! But then it was explained. The yellow tape on the floor represented the long jump world record of 8.95 metres achieved by Mike Powell in 1991 at the World Championships in Athletics, Tokyo. The tape on the wall represented the high jump world record of 2.45 metres set by Javier Sotomayor in 1993. Both records are amazing enough but, bearing in mind advances in technology and our understanding of the human body, what is truly amazing is that both records remain unbeaten!
The UK is keen to showcase the ‘cleanest’ Olympics ever with the biggest anti-doping operation in the history of the Olympics being implemented at the London 2012 laboratory. Every medallist at both the Olympics and Paralympics and at least half of the competitors will be tested.
Andy Parkinson, Chief Executive of UK Anti-Doping explained how some of today’s athletes continue to use highly sophisticated doping programmes. They use synthetic compounds which mimic compounds already occurring in the body and there is only a very short timescale within which detection can occur. Gene doping also occurs for example athletes withdrawing their own blood and then re-injecting it just before competing. Yet again difficult to detect.
“Testing gets the end user and not the providers” explained Andy and the harsh reality is that “anabolic agents get more return-on-investment than social drugs”.
The overriding ambition of UK Anti-Doping is to tackle the supply and not just the end user. To this end, strategic involvement with pharma and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has been encouraged. For example, pharma can share confidential information with the WADA about how and which medicines can be misused for sporting purposes. Andy finished his presentation by stating that the UK is the “best place to deliver the cleanest games possible” but “ultimately the final decision lies with the athletes”.
Let’s hope that the athletes share the same vision as the Agency and that, if the World long jump and high jump records are to be beaten at the London Olympics, they are done so through ‘grit and determination’ and not obtained falsely via illegal and unethical means.
|Copyright © 2013 GRS All Rights Reserved||
Global House, Painters Lane, Sutton, Ely,
Cambridgeshire, CB6 2NS, UK
Telephone: +44(0)1223 750638