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The Night Olympic Team: Fighting to Keep Drugs Out of the Games
     

The Night Olympic Team: Fighting to Keep Drugs Out of the Games

by Caroline Hatton
 

A team of scientists works to expose athletes who use banned drugs to win Olympic medals in this Library Media Connection Editor's Choice. Here is the true, inside story of the UCLA Olympic Laboratory—the drug-detection team that tests athletes for banned performance-enhancing drugs. The scientists worked long nights to detect a new, never-before-tested

Overview

A team of scientists works to expose athletes who use banned drugs to win Olympic medals in this Library Media Connection Editor's Choice. Here is the true, inside story of the UCLA Olympic Laboratory—the drug-detection team that tests athletes for banned performance-enhancing drugs. The scientists worked long nights to detect a new, never-before-tested performance-enhancing drug called NESP (novel erythropoietic stimulating protein) during the 19th Winter Olympics (2002) in Salt Lake City, Utah. The group's work exposed three NESP users among the winning cross-country skiers. The drug users were stripped of their medals, which were then given to the rightful winners.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Readers will certainly understand one of the more complicated subtexts of the upcoming Olympics much better after spending some time with this slim, readable offering. ('sports smarts,' author's note, glossary, resources, index)" --Kirkus Reviews

"Fair-minded and kid-friendly. . . . Teachers and young readers will appreciate Hatton's personable manner and her keen perspective on this timely subject." --School Library Journal

"Hatton charts new territory providing a look at the lab that works to keep athletic competitions fair. This is an outstanding resource for reports on drugs in sports or the Olympics." --Library Media Connection

VOYA - David Goodale
This title is a well-intentioned but poorly executed account of the UCLA Olympic Lab's work at the 2002 Winter Olympics. It tells of some of the Night Olympic Team's members (those who worked at night to test athletes for forbidden drugs) and their diligent efforts to detect a new banned blood-booster drug and bring the athletes who used it to justice. Hatton, who worked inside the lab, recounts the events in short chapters that end with text boxes of additional information. She fulfills several of the book's objectives by showing how the difficult work required contributions from many people and by offering information about doping that will "help readers make good decisions." The best sections of Hatton's work are the supplementary text boxes, such as "What are Anabolic Steroids?", that provide important information for reports. Unfortunately the narrative is flat and occasionally awkward. In addition, two sentences are repeated word for word on pages fifteen and seventeen and several sentences on pages thirty-five and thirty-nine repeat the same information using very similar wording. The book's photographs do nothing to enhance the text. Many portray scientists or Salt Lake City during the Olympic Games. Books such as Steroids (Lucent, 2006), from the Lucent Drug Education Library, are better organized and written, but librarians may want to purchase this title simply for its updated scientific information on a very current issue. Reviewer: David Goodale
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
Everyone likes to win, but when the desire becomes so strong that the athletes make poor choices of drug use to give them the edge, something has to be done. This book is devoted to explaining how to keep drugs out of the games. It is difficult to teach young people that doing their best even if they lose is better than taking performance-inducing drugs. It was exciting to read this book and learn how science is working on the problem. Throughout the book are special pages distinguished by giving the page a block effect. These pages contain a further explanation about what has just been read. For example, "EPO: The Body's Blood-Boosting Hormone" and "Can Athletes Be Thrown Out for Taking Cold Medicines?" This book will be of interest to both boys and girls who are personally involved with sports or if they have a friend or family member involved in sports. I actually think all PE teachers should require this book to be read by their students. It is well written, easy to understand, and answers many questions. This would be a wonderful resource in schools. The author manages to take the mystery out of drug testing on athletes and the consequences of taking them. This is a must read book for young adults. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8- Hatton presents a concise, readable account of a group of scientists who are working to detect forbidden drug use in sports. The scientists of the UCLA Olympic lab, or the "night Olympic team," see themselves as custodians of the ideal of fairness. Five months before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Amgen Corporation scientists introduced an improved blood-booster, NESP. Like many banned drugs, it has valid uses, but it was feared that some athletes would use it to boost their endurance and, due to its newness, elude detection. The UCLA Olympic Lab set up elaborate testing procedures to ensure fairness and worked around the clock to process test results. They found that three athletes, all cross-country skiers, had used NESP. With the backing of top Olympic officials, their findings were tested and the athletes' medals were revoked. Hatton's approach to the issues raised by the use of performance-enhancing drugs is fair-minded and kid-friendly. When considering why athletes cheat, she observes: "A gold medal might make an athlete a national hero or lead to fabulous wealth. Some athletes feel too much pressure to win from fans, loved ones, or even themselves." Teachers and young readers will appreciate Hatton's personable manner and her keen perspective on this timely subject. Full-color photos appear throughout.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
The "night Olympic team" of the title consists not of athletes but of the dedicated scientists, lawyers and officials who make sure the Olympians stay honest. Written by a member of the 2002 Winter Olympics squad of drug testers, the narrative presents a cogent background of doping practices and the development of tests to thwart them, framed within the tale of the discovery of NESP-a synthetic blood-booster thought to be impossible to test for-in the urine of three medalists. Hatton does a creditable job of explaining the chemical alphabet-soup jargon of drugs and drug-testing, abetted by a design that features short chapters and fact boxes that both flesh out the story's details and offer supplementary facts about doping. Along the way, she makes a strong case for the importance to both health and integrity for the stringent treatment of offenders. Readers will certainly understand one of the more complicated subtexts of the upcoming Olympics much better after spending some time with this slim, readable offering. ("sports smarts," author's note, glossary, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590785669
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
04/15/2008
Pages:
56
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Caroline Hatton has a pharmacy degree from the University of Paris and a PhD in chemistry from UCLA. She worked at the UCLA Olympic Laboratory for many years, testing athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. Her first book, Vero and Philippe, made the Los Angeles Times Children's Bestsellers list. She lives in Culver City, California.

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