Sports doping for the rest of us

Floyd’s lawyer says his client is innocent and Marion’s negative B-sample probably doesn’t prove a thing. But neither is the big doping story this week. Check this:

Updated: Sep. 7, 2006, 5:29 PM ET
Stem cells could be next generation of sports doping
Associated Press

LONDON — For athletes, stem cells have much more than the potential to cure disease and save lives — they may be able to heal injuries, boost strength and endurance, and provide a lasting edge over the competition.

If it sounds like stem cells are next frontier for doping in sports, it’s because they very well may be.

“There’s a spin-off technology from stem cells that could produce super-athletes,” said Paul Griffiths, managing director of CryoGenesis International, which stores umbilical cord blood in its bank for potential later therapeutic use.

He thinks injecting stem cells into healthy muscles might increase their size and even restore them to their youthful capacity.

“You could potentially find a 40-year-old man with 20-year-old legs,” Griffiths said. (Story.)

Know what? Here’s sports doping technology that I’m all for. I’ll let the international sporting establishment deal with setting the rules and prosecuting the cheaters, but in the meantime, can somebody hook me up with whoever is the BALCO of the stem-cell doping underworld?

It’s not often that I read a story that has this kind of effect on me. I’ve played a lot of games over the past 40 years and have a lot of mileage on my legs. My ankles are holding up okay, I guess, but my knees are shot all to hell (this is my good knee). While I deal with it and soldier on, playing as much in the way of soccer and hoops as I can, the price I pay is fairly constant pain. When I do something as simple as stand up, people standing ten feet away can hear the popping and squishing in my knees. It feels about like it sounds.

Obviously I’m not the athlete I once was. I can live with that. I don’t want stem-cell doping so I can play in the NBA (that would be some bad-ass technology if I had it, but hey, it wasn’t my knees that helped me “preserve my amateur status” 25 years ago). No, I’d just like to be pain-free again. It’s that simple. If the therapy caused some improvement in performance that would be great – maybe I’d score a couple more goals a season for my 40+ team.

Maybe all “performance-enhancing technology” ain’t bad, huh? So let’s get our research on, shall we?



4 thoughts on “Sports doping for the rest of us

  1. While I’m not a sports fan, I find myself drawn in by the various news reports of one mega-athlete or another under the microscope over a doping scandal. I can certainly see where cheating is an issue, and from the corporate backing side, what’s good for the shareholder is probably not what’s good for the individual’s performance if fair play is flouted for it. BUT. Being the non-sports fan that I am, I can’t help but wonder if the solution isn’t a very simple one…create a new division/league/whatever. Sure, it would be rife with risks, and undoubtedly some would push themselves right into a pine box, but whatever happened to self-determination? I like to pretend I have the remaining liberty of choosing the context of my demise, if not the specific manner. How much moreso for one so driven by the need for excellence that they would undergo any risk for the obviously temporary distinction of being The Greatest? And which is greater, the potential for abuse or the potential for excellence?
    From the science-fiction perspective, I’ve always loved the notion of one day actually have flesh, blood and metal cyborgs amongst us. Prosthesis may be a medical inroad, but what happens when, due to technological breakthroughs not yet accomplished, we’re able to elect for a surgical implant or replacement that could give us ________? We’re perhaps not so very far away from the decisions to be faced, and given the “moral” climate we’re still stuck in over these issues, now seems to be a good time to open those doors. Another inroad that seems abundantly apparent is the potential for military application. Titanium bone replacements, anyone? Super-juiced legs that could hump a 200 lb ruck at a run across the most inhospitable environments? Adaptations for weapons systems or climes inimitable to human existence? Though I naturally find the latter conjecture disturbing, here’s a human side of that bizarro-world proposition…veterans, however outfitted, may eventually want to retire to more peaceful pursuits. Perhaps even competitive ones. With whom will any of these beneficiaries of medical technology be allowed to compete?
    Or co-exist? Imagine, in a Gibson-esque twist, if you could have a hardwired link to LexisNexis and desired such a thing. Would you have an “unfair advantage” in the marketplace of ideas? Or would you be subject perhaps to gross salary limitations or contract provisions that preclude your bid? What price must society pay for the sake of leveling that imaginary playing field of the future, all in the interests of fair play?
    All of which may be far afield from the not-so-simple desire for pain reduction and re-enhancement back to some kind of prior norm, but I have a tendency to look at puzzles like this through both figurative microscopes and telescopes. I’m with you, sports fan. Let the research chips fall where they may.

  2. Surfing regularly for the past 42 years has taken it’s toll on my body. I’d love a miracle injection to restore my aching joints. I have found that to minimize my pain, to do at least 15 minutes of Yoga before any physical activity.

  3. Welcome to somebody’s Cyberpunk/Shadowrun game, huh?
    I love some of the possibilities here and always have. I don’t know how viable I think the wired and unwired leagues co-existing would be, because I don’t think the public will pay to see second-best, so the unwired league would be like a club or amateur league eventually. Could be wrong, but that’s the early betting line.
    And as for the LexisNexis uplink, here’s my advice on that. Don’t volunteer to be a beta tester for the first release of Microsoft Wetware for Windows, ummmkay?

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