Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"A License to Cheat"

A recent Swedish study has concluded that ten percent of Caucasian men and a full two-thirds of Asian men have a genetic anomaly which prevents their bodies from breaking down testosterone into a form which dissolves in urine. Upshot: they can take and receive the benefits of testosterone without it being detected.

Predictably, the anti-doping authorities are shocked, nervous, flummoxed, and discombobulated:
“It’s disturbing,” said Dr. Don Catlin, the chief executive of Anti-Doping Research, a nonprofit group in Los Angeles. “Basically, you have a license to cheat.”
Of course, rather than just accept that, at some point, people's bodies are always going to react differently to different stimuli, the anti-doping crowd would prefer to get more up in athletes' business:

Dr. Schulze and her colleagues suggest that athletes be tested to see if they have the testosterone-metabolizing gene. Others said the testing of athletes for this and other genes may be coming soon.

“The specter of doing this is out there,” says Dr. Alvin Matsumoto, a testosterone expert at the University of Washington in Seattle and the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System.

Who knows where this is going to lead, but given how it usually ends up, I suppose we can soon expect to see Selig and Fehr before some Congressional committee explaining what they're gonna do to protect the children from those genetic freaks ruining the grand old game of baseball.


Mr. Thursday said...

It's gonna be like Harrison Bergeron up in here to keep people from cheating.

"What? You're naturally able to run, like, crazy fast and you're strong and you've got 20-10 vision? Screw that. Here are some funny glasses and we want you to start wearing these shoes with the iron soles."

Jim D. said...

So if they develop and use this test, then what? These players still would not be able to be tested for steroids if I am reading the article correctly. Do they just "out" the players who can't generate a positive test and have them play in suspicion? Do they ban these people from playing? I mean seriously. What if a player didn't know he had this gene then finds out? Can he then juice away? My head is spinning.

And two thirds of Asian men huh? I guess that explains the unparalleled success of one Hideki Irabu.

Roger Moore said...

Wow. This completely destroys the little faith I ever had in the science behind drug testing. Apparently in all the years of using urine tests for testosterone, nobody thought to double check that the urine level actually corresponds to the blood level. This isn't an obscure point, either; it's essential to the proper function of the test.

Why didn't they find this out sooner? They obviously haven't put their tests through serious peer review, because this issue is exactly the kind of thing that peer review is supposed to catch. Why should we have any faith in drug testing if they can't even look at very basic issues like this?