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From The CriticsReviewer: Richard T. Ferro, MD, CAQSM (Duke University Medical Center)
Description: This unique and interesting book is based on papers delivered at a 1998 conference organized by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles. The book critically examines efforts to control doping in international sport.
Purpose: The purpose is to examine the issues related to elite athletes' use of banned substances. Most of the contributors to this book are of the opinion that doping in sports is a pernicious and immoral act which should be better policed because it threatens the very essence of competitive sport. The book explores the critical issues surrounding efforts to control doping (commercialization, governance, science, the media, and athletes' rights), including why they have thus far failed. It also offers alternatives to improve the current system.
Audience: The book is written for anyone interested in this often ignored and unfortunate side of elite sports — medical professionals, amateur athletes, and coaches. The authors are credible authorities on this subject, as both critics of the sport establishment and representatives of major sport bodies, including journalists, academicians, former elite athletes, and sport administrators.
Features: The book is divided into three sections. Part I deals with the science of doping and covers topics ranging from a scientific understanding of how banned substances improve performance and how testers detect drug use to the epidemiology of doping in sport. Part II examines the history, ethics, and social context of doping and begins with a very interesting and thorough chronology of doping in sport. It reviews the philosophical basis of doping control and how different countries handle these issues. Part III involves the politics of doping and includes arguments about the IOC's legitimacy, ability and commitment to combat doping, while analyzing the political and economic factors that hinder effective enforcement. The book ends with a call for an external, autonomous, and transparent body to take over doping control and education in elite sport. The authors bolster their arguments by providing expert testimony and accounts by those who have firsthand experience in these matters, namely elite athletes and their coaches.
Assessment: This uniquely edifying book offers a multidisciplinary perspective and behind-the-scenes look at a major societal problem. It covers a variety of fascinating topics, while critically analyzing the failure of sports governing bodies to control the use of banned ergogenic aids in international sport. It also presents the authors' strong convictions that the sports establishment should be cleaned up, which, though admirable, is something they understand to be nearly impossible given the current politically and economically motivated and controlled systems. This emotionally charged book will be a valuable addition for readers of all disciplines who are interested in competitive sports.