Less Juice Please!

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Terrorism, the economy, war in Iraq, world hunger, all issues covered by the candidates on CNN, FOX News, CBS, and even Comedy Central, in the last presidential election. Like Barry Bonds' alleged perjury the opinions of McCain and Obama dominated the media, but what few people did see was the meaningful stances that the candidates took during an interview on ESPN. During the last Washington Redskins game before election day, a question hung in the air like a game winning field goal, and seconds felt like eternity. If you could change one thing about sports what would it be? With a tinge of true detest in his eyes John McCain made it known that he does not tolerate the use of steroids in any sport, they are ruining the game.

Fatigue causing Beta-blockers used to steady the aim of an archer, muscle- building anabolic steroids, and Human growth hormone, olympic athletes are banned from using any of them. They are all easy to get, and easy to use, but luckily for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and the future of competitive sports they are also easy to test for. Steroids give an unfair advantage to the athletes that use them, they are short-cuts and take away one of the fundamental lessons of sports, hard work is rewarded. The athletes that partake in the use of steroids endanger themselves, a fact that is pretty well known among the public. Despite being informed that steroids are detrimental to one's health as many as 3 million American may have used anabolic steroids., according the the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
As more ways of detecting steroid use are being developed, and as the risks of the substances are being exploited, newer and better science is allowing for newer and better substances that allow for "newer" and "better" athletes. H. Lee Sweeney, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania discovered how to "manipulate" genes that repair weak or damaged bones and muscles in a very short time. Their is more appeal to competitors than just the ability to heal like Wolverine, the genes can also increase the size of undamaged muscles immensely with maybe just a prick from the needle, giving athletes the strength of The Inredible Hulk to go along with their super healing power. If the advantages are Apollo Creed then the risks are Rocky Balboa. Gene therapy, although sometimes beneficial in the short term has caused death in at least one volunteer patient, and leukemia in a majority of the others. Professor Sweeney's plan was to attach dystrophin, the gene that provides for the growth of muscles, to the DNA of a virus that is able to transport genes into cells. The professor did not come up with this idea to help Olympians cheat, but to cure muscular dystrophy. When tested on mice and dogs they developed muscles like an enraged Bruce Banner, but they did not turn green, or any other color for that matter, actually there have still not been any negative side-effects on these animals. But in the past with the altering of genes the harm did not begin until years after the mutation was complete, and even if the mice and dogs never developed any sort of harmful side-effects the immune systems of both of these animals are much different that a primate's and therefore a human's immune system could respond in a totally different manner to this new virus. Along with making an athlete grow faster and stronger, the gene mutation could also make precancerous cells grow faster and stronger.
Why can't the Olympic committee just test for these alteration like they do for every other banned substance? Because the only known way to prove that someone has been "gene doping" is to slice off a piece of the suspicious looking muscle and look for notifications where DNA has possibly been altered.
If John McCain had been elected I do not know how high on his list of priorities putting an end to "juicing" would fall, but there are a few things he could do to stop it. It is vital that the World Anti-Doping Agency have money to test for new, more practical, ways to detect gene doping, it has been hypothesized that the mutated genes would change the way that muscles secrete substances into the blood, and urine. Scientists need funds if they are to find unique patterns in the urine of athletes with adjusted DNA. By publicly endorsing these agencies John McCain could still help them raise enormous amounts of money. Also, the government's scientists have been working on to create a Mitochondrion enhancing drug that will allow soldiers to serve their country longer. How can athletes be expected to respect the rules of doping if the government does not? If the legislature or President would back any of these ideas much could develop as far as getting rid of steroids in sports, and saving an American past time. But for now the "juicers" are winning this race.





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