Olympics – faster, higher, stronger – with the help of substances

How do athletes at each Olympic Games reach levels never attained before? New ways of training muscles clearly play a role. In the case of Great Britain, which in Beijing and London has risen close to the top, success ratios were also transformed by massive  National Lottery financing and professional business planning.

For others, new performance-improving substances come into play. Olympic head Jacques Rogge warned participants to steer clear of doping in his opening address. But only certain substances are outlawed. Others may bring a significant advantage without infringing any rules.

One such innovation is a bio-chemical »redox signalling« preparation which stimulates cells to release anti-oxidants and mobilises fatty acids to improve fuel storage and physical capacity. Its producers, ASEA, say a number of Olympic sportspeople are using it in these Games. No names, because who consumes what is a strategic secret jealously guarded from rivals.

Is that doping? No, say the makers – no sports governing body has raised objections. But does it give takers an unfair advantage? That doesn’t seem to matter. The field is open. Whoever can get the best stuff that hasn’t been banned can perform »faster, higher, stronger.«

Unfair perhaps all the same, but it also rewards the smart and the inventive. Top performers know that Olympic competition is cruel. They strive upwards notwithstanding, and take the knocks with the accolades.

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