Archive for the 'Doping' category

Doping in Academia: "Should we be allowing cognitive enhancers before the SAT?"

Mar 31 2009 Published by under Doping, Neuropharmacology, Public Health

BikeMonkey GuestPost
I had comments in the past on the topic of cognitive performance doping. You know, taking drugs to artificially improve how smart you are so as to gain a competitive advantage over your non-drug-taking peers. Doping. Just like sports doping. My prior comments on the WP blog were in these two posts.
Doping is A-Okay According to Nature.
November 14, 2007

Ha. Of course this is a considerable misrepresentation and minimization. Caffeine (prescribed by BM for "falling asleep in 4pm seminars") and nicotine (ditto by a colleague) are also good for focusing of attention, improving memory and other GoodThings for complex brain function. Considerably more than 15% of students and "anecdotes" of "postdocs and academics" use these cognitive enhancers I can tell you. Sucks that they are addictive drugs, but them's the breaks. I mean, we gotta function in our jobs, right?
But let's get right down to the point in the Nature editorial, eh? Wouldn't you become addicted to crack if it would cure "tumor development"? I mean surely if Nature believes a little chronic Ritalin (methylphenidate) is called for just for "memoriz(ing) a postulated signalling pathway" relevant to cancer they can get behind addiction for a cure, right?

Performance Doping in Academia, Take 2
December 19, 2007

The original commentary then asks, in essence if it is "cheating" for otherwise normal people to use cognitive enhancers. The central consideration is that we've already crossed that Rubicon. Caffeine and nicotine being the primary examples. It is completely acceptable, particularly in the case of caffeine, to brag on use of this stimulant to confer unnatural and unfair advantage over the competition in academic performance. From undergrad, to grad to professordom. Any argument that tries to overlook or minimize this reality is completely bogus. "I wrote my last grant on Modafinil", "I wrote my last grant at the local coffeeshop" and "I wrote my last grant on Adderall" should have precisely the same ethical implications. The legal status, common acceptance, route of administration of the compound, specificity of the compound, etc have nothing to do with the ethical question of "cheating" by taking a cognitive enhancing compound.

This story just won't go away. Today's offering is from a PBS broadcast on smart drugs on a program called These Days.

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25 responses so far

A rash of ADHD diagnoses...

Jan 12 2009 Published by under Doping

We have a bit of a running joke in my neck of the woods which stems from a newspaper report many years ago detailing a high rate of diagnoses for ADHD in a local high school. The surprising part was the rather upscale demographic of the high school. Of course, once one became aware that having a diagnosis of ADHD or some other mental/behavioral disability permitted all sorts of extra attention and breaks to be extended to the school kid in question, the suspicious mind was satisfied.
Well of course. If darling kid is not performing above average, there must be SomethingWrongzOhNOes! Get some drugs, quick! (and, oh btw, let him get extra tutoring and untimed tests and some other stuff as well).
Today's tip is from The Common Man who points to this AP article.

Baseball authorized nearly 8 percent of its players to use drugs for ADHD last season, which allowed them to take otherwise banned stimulants.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 3 percent to 5 percent of children have ADHD, according to its Web site [ED-link].
Just eight TUEs were granted for illnesses other than ADHD: three for hypertension, three for hypogonadism, one for post-concussion syndrome and one for metabolic myopathy. The 114 overall TUEs was up from 111 the previous year.</small

Lord knows MLB players would never use amphetamine class psychomotor stimulants to improve play. Nor could there be any reason to seek a legal exemption to use stimulants. That would be just cynical talk.
Maybe they should just switch to benzothiazepines.
small caveat, ADHD rates are 2-3 times higher in boys than in girls (this cites NIH info for the summary). Given that pro ballplayers are all male we need to think of this 8% rate in that context.

33 responses so far


Jan 09 2009 Published by under BikeMonkey, Cycling, Doping, Drug Abuse Science

The 2007 WADA list has caffeine in the "2007 Monitoring Program" but it is not a "Prohibited Substance". The 2007 US AntiDopingAgency (USADA) list seems to directly quote the WADA list on stimulants, so ditto. It used to be one of the threshold substances (under 12 micrograms/ml of urine and you were OK) but was delisted as of Jan 1, 2004.

HA! I just noticed this draft from 11/30/07! Dang if I can remember where I was going with it, just a stub and all. Reminded me about something over at Zuska's diggity dogs. Caffeine really is a drug. Gee ya think?

no longer quite the n00b scicurious recently had something about adenosine and caffeine so I'll just point you there for the science.

one of PalMD's podcasts ( I think it was #2 or #4 but I could be wrong) talked about the wonders of coffee and how medicine can't really find much to worry about. Sure, save the addiction part.

Anyway, I'll just snap this up in case it jogs my memory of what I was thinking about. Probably some papers on cycling performance I guess....

4 responses so far

This will prove you raced clean, Lance?

Sep 08 2008 Published by under Cycling, Doping

Now this is interesting. VeloNews is reporting that Lance Armstrong is coming out of retirement to race the big races again next year.

Lance Armstrong will come out of retirement next year to compete in five road races with the Astana team, according to sources familiar with the developing situation.
Armstrong, who turns 37 this month, will compete in the Amgen Tour of California, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Georgia, the Dauphine-Libere and the Tour de France -- and will race for no salary or bonuses, the sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told

Interesting sporting angle, what's all this about the doping, DM?

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12 responses so far

Marion Jones Completes Her Prison Term

Sep 05 2008 Published by under Doping, Ethics, Scientific Misconduct, Tribe of Science

Marion Jones, former golden girl of track and field has been released from jail.

A federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman says Jones was released Friday morning from a halfway house in San Antonio after serving most of her six-month sentence for lying to federal investigators about her use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The BM had previously noted her "Guilty" plea and subsequent sentencing.

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12 responses so far

The Statistics of Sports Doping

Aug 06 2008 Published by under Cycling, Doping

The Summer Olympics are finally upon us. No doubt there will be some interesting sports doping cases arising. While we're waiting, might as well beat a dead horse and see if we can get anything out of it. The latest issue of Nature contains a commentary from Donald A. Berry on the "flawed statistics and flawed logic" of detecting sports doping. I'll get to that after the jump but first the Nature editorial team issued a fairly strident position:

Nature believes that accepting 'legal limits' of specific metabolites without such rigorous verification goes against the foundational standards of modern science, and results in an arbitrary test for which the rate of false positives and false negatives can never be known. By leaving these rates unknown, and by not publishing and opening to broader scientific scrutiny the methods by which testing labs engage in study, it is Nature's view that the anti-doping authorities have fostered a sporting culture of suspicion, secrecy and fear.

Preach on! [Update 8/7/08: roundup of commentary on this story from Trust but Verify blog]

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13 responses so far

It's always a new twist in Tour de France doping

Jul 18 2008 Published by under Cycling, Doping

Okay, with Stage 13 on the books, where are we with the doping cases? Well, first we had Manuel Beltrán nailed for erythropoietin (EPO); his team Liquigas pulled him out of the Tour and suspended him. Next up was Moisés Dueñas as the second rider with a "non-negative test" for EPO. Number three is Riccardo Riccó, also nailed on suspicion of EPO.
Here is where it gets interesting.

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6 responses so far

Sports Doping: Analytical Chemistry is Not Magic

Jul 15 2008 Published by under Cycling, Doping

The world's greatest sporting event is on at the moment; I'm sure you are all glued to the live feed from every morning (in the US, whatever time wherever you may be) [Go Vande Velde!!!!!]. You may possibly have missed the expected, i.e., the first doping positive- Beltrán was booted for suspicion of EPO doping. And you know we just love the doping stories around here. [Update 7/16/08: Another EPO positive non-negative "A" sample]
One of the larger ones of recent interest was the Landis debacle. The debacle in which the accused rider's defense rested in no small part on the probity of the testing lab and the validity of the analyses which provided evidence of his testosterone doping.

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11 responses so far

Guestpost: Floyd Landis Exhausts Final Appeal

Readers of the old blog on WordPress will recall that I enlisted BikeMonkey to cover the sports-doping beat a time or two on the old blog. Today's news pried him away from his political ranting commenting for a guest appearance. -DM

Dave Stoller: "Everybody cheats. I just didn't know".

BikeMonkey GuestPost

Professional cyclist Floyd Landis has lost his final appeal of his conviction for testosterone doping during the 2006 Tour de France. Most readers will be familiar with the backstory. If not, click the two prior links and then head on over to the trust but verify blog for the pro-Landis perspective.
I'm motivated to discuss this stuff not just because I follow professional cycling now and again; it has a lot of parallels with science misconduct.

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4 responses so far

Tour de France Valentine to Astana Reads "Don't be Mine"

Feb 14 2008 Published by under Cycling, Doping

From we have the news that the organization which runs the Tour de France will not be inviting professional team Astana to compete this year.

The Astana team was given a resounding vote of no confidence on Wednesday when the Tour de France organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation, announced that the team would not be invited to any of the ASO's events. This means its star, Alberto Contador, will not be able to defend his titles in either the Tour or the upcoming Paris-Nice.

Only three days until the start of the Epogen Amgen Tour of California and already 2008 is shaping up to be another Year O' Doping Scandal in pro peloton. Big. Sigh.

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