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Just milk? source
This week’s sports doping kerfuffle relates to the recent confession of retired Major League Baseball player Mark McGwire that he indeed used performance-enhancing drugs during his career. This confession, from what can be deduced (one of many professional opinionating comments here), was sparked only by McGwire’s desire to become a hitting coach for the St Louis Cardinal team and MLB head Bud Selig’s insistence that he come clean first. McGwire had previously refused to confess to his performance-enhancing drug use at a Congressional inquiry which had a lot of positive-role-model impact upside but zero financial upside. (In case you were wanting to evaluate McGwire’s motivational claims at present or anything, you know.)
This is by no means news to anyone with half a brain who followed the duel between McGwire and Sammy Sosa to raise the single-season home-run hitting record in 1998. So that part is not particularly interesting or instructive, although our good blog friends the BM and Anonymoustache have opined anyway (noted Yankees fan Comrade PhysioProf has been uncharacteristically silent on the issue). AM was in particularly fine form:

Here’s the ‘roid confession I’d like to hear one of these days:
Yeah, I did steroids and HGH. I’m not proud of it, but I did it.
And it pisses me off that all of you people are getting all freaking high and mighty over me because of this. The hell with you all. The writers knew something was going on. The managers knew something was going on. The owners knew something was going on. The fans knew something was going on. What….a record stands for 40 years without anyone getting close to it and suddenly it gets broken 5 times in 3 years, and you all seriously thought it was because of better [redacted] Ovaltine?

I’d like to hear that type of confession for a scientific paper retraction one of these days, wouldn’t you?

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BikeMonkey Guest Post
Professional sports continues to suffer from doping scandal. Although it is understood that preparation for the highest levels of competition involves considerably more than “training”, most sports have enacted rules to distinguish allowable training/preparation aids from “cheating“. This is by no means new. Nor is it over, the cycling world is poised for the now-traditional pre-Tour revelations of doping which will re-shuffle the lineup on July 4th.
But rules violations are in some ways uninteresting. There are rules to sport and if you break them you are penalized. Within that context, the nature of cheating and the ethical concepts of fair play are operationalized. Boring.
More interesting is to consider the essentially arbitrary distinctions that create the rules in the first place. Take Lance Armstrong. Winner of a record number of Tours de France, dominant rider and all around cycling icon. Did I mention he was making a come-back at his ripe old age and after a several year layoff? Great stuff.
And this was all possible only because he decided to have cancer.

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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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A rash of ADHD diagnoses…

January 12, 2009

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.

Caffeine

January 9, 2009

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….

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
VeloNews

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

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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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