Citius Altius Fortius: At What Cost? Essay, Research Paper
Citius, Altius, Fortius: At What Cost?
Citius, Altius, Fortius is the motto of the Olympic games. Translated from Greek, it means “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. Recently, Olympic contenders have been doing everything they can to live up to that motto. Most do it by training hour after hour, each day. Others try to do it by illegally taking performance enhancing drugs. This is why we need to test for drugs at the Olympics. Drug Testing in the Olympics began only recently in the 1968 Games held in Mexico1. Drugs are banned for two very good reasons: the use of drugs produces an unfair advantage, and it is hazardous to the athlete to take them. While drug testing is now commonplace, the procedures are still fairly primitive and arouse much controversy2. We all remember the Andreea Raducan situation from the Sydney Olympics. She unknowingly had consumed a performing enhancing drug that was in her cold medication. Her medal was revoked as soon as the drug test results got back.3 While Andreea was caught, many others who intentionally “doped up” weren’t Many of the drugs or procedures out there, still can’t be tested for, and more and more athletes are cheating. Most of the drugs and procedures have adverse long term effects, some resulting in death. The drug tests are detrimental to the existence of the Olympics and need to be upheld at all costs.
Most drugs can be put into one of the five categories of performance enhancing drugs. Anabolic Steroids are mainly strength builders. They can be available in forms that flush out of your system within a few hours. The most popular of these drugs is the synthetic testosterone. Most people have a one to one ratio of testosterone and epitosterone. Few people have elevated levels of three to one, while the Olympics allow up to a six to one ratio4. According to the Olympic Guidelines, you could take this drug up to the six to one ratio and still participate in the games with the contenders that don’t take anabolic steroids. They can’t really discourage this because this is still following the guidelines. Another category is EPO, which stands for Erythropoietin. Erythropoietin regulates red blood cell production. The red blood cells deliver the oxygen to the muscles and organs of the body. EPO is mostly used by the long distance runners because of its endurance enhancing qualities. It can improve a twenty minute run by thirty seconds and a Marathon run by four minutes. EPO is flushed from the system and is undetectable after a week. This drug, as with all the others, is very dangerous to the athlete. Erythropoietin has been the cause of twenty-five deaths since we identified it as a manufactured drug. Each person reacts to any given drug in different ways. The threshold of EPO differs from person to person, but when you exceed your threshold, your blood thickens to the point where your heart can’t pump it any longer5. Blood doping is another category. It is a process that will also lengthen a runner’s endurance. You first take about a quart of blood from the athlete’s body. Then you remove the red blood cells from the plasma. You put these in cold storage for about a week and then re-infuse them into the athlete’s blood stream. This results in a twenty-five percent increase in the distance the athlete can run. This also carries with it an inherent danger, but even though it’s illegal, it can’t be tested for6. Human Growth Hormone or hGH is a naturally occurring protein found in the human body. This increases the size of muscles while testosterone increases their strength. After you inject it, it can’t be detected after 17-45 minutes. This is also not tested for, even though it’s illegal7. Finally, there is the blood substitutes. They also boost the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, and aren’t tested for. The effects of this drug aren’t known, for that, it’s considered dangerous8.
Drug Testing hasn’t been around for a long time, but, then again, either have the drugs. Current drug screening is behind the pace set by the advancing drug market. Urine testing is by far the easiest because of the ease of collection and most drugs show up better, being concentrated and all. In a urine test, the athlete provides a 75 ml specimen under the supervision of a chaperone to be sent out to a lab9. The use of blood tests started in the Sydney games. It is used to detect the presence of drugs like EPO and hGH, that don’t show up in urine tests10. However advanced these tests are, there are still drugs that avoid detection. Only the basic performance enhancing drugs are being detected. This creates a problem for the “clean” athletes and for the integrity of the Olympic Games. This is the main reason for drug test advancement.
Some people feel that the drug tests shouldn’t be advanced to the point where you could get your medal taken away for taking some cold medication. For instance, Andreea Raducan was an Olympic gymnast who had her all-around gold medal revoked because she had taken a cold pill given to her by her team doctor11. Some feel that this is unfair, but the Olympic committee feels that if any performance enhancing drug is present in the system, then that person is disqualified. If Andreea Raducan was allowed to keep her medal while having drugs in her system, where would the Olympic committee stop? 12 No matter how you look at it, she still had drugs in her system, granted they probably didn’t affect her performance. They still can’t allow the presence of a performance enhancing drug to be in an Olympic contender.
The drug tests need to be administered as long as there are people taking performance enhancing drugs. Without their advancement, the Olympics will be a competition of who can find the best drugs, rather than a competition of athletic superiority. The Olympic Games have always been a place where we can send our greatest athletes, not our greatest drug addicts, to represent us. There needs to be some police force to keep the games clean, so they still hold some prestige.