Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Drugs and Curling

I do not know very much about how drugs affect athletes' performances. But I really don't see how the use of any kind of drug would give a significant advantage to one player or team in curling. In the absence of any compelling evidence that drugs create an advantage in curling, why have drug tests for the sport? Why not let the curlers do whatever they want and save all the time, money, and hassles of drug testing? Leave drug-use enforcement to the law enforcement authorities and get thecurling sanctioning bodies out of testing and enforcement.

If there are drugs that can give curlers a significant advantage, I guess I would like sanctioning bodies to test for them. But I must confess I have never heard of anyone bulking up on steroids or practicing blood-doping so they can sweep better, harder, and faster.

A commenter on an earlier posting on this topic suggested that the banned substances list is not sport specific. If so, this one-drug-policy-fits-all concept seems terribly inefficient.


At 8/24/2005 10:32 p.m., Blogger Amateur said...

In some of the physical-control sports (shooting, archery) beta-blockers and other drugs that suppress the heart rate and calm the nerves are thought to be performance-enhancing. I am unclear as to whether there is any scientific proof on this issue, but most depressants are banned with this in mind. They are not performance-enhancing in, say, the sprints.

Another point: out-of-competition tests do not test for the whole list, only for steroids and a few other drugs that might be used as part of a training program. The curler referred to tested positive at the Brier; he would not have been caught using cocaine recreationally in the off-season.

At 8/25/2005 8:09 a.m., Blogger EclectEcon said...

I hate to be too crass about this, but if a curler wants to snort up or use any other drugs (recreational or otherwise) during a tournament, I see no reason for the sanctioning body to care (aside from legalities, which are better left to law-enforcement bodies).

If, however, there are drugs developed which do give curlers an advantage and which are otherwise harmful and/or illegal, then I am prepared to change my mind.

At 8/26/2005 1:31 p.m., Blogger Amateur said...

I guess what I was trying to suggest above is that there might be certain families of drugs that would be an advantage in curling, namely, drugs that produce a calming effect. Depressants taken in moderation might facilitate better shot-making.

You stated:
which do give curlers an advantage and which are otherwise harmful and/or illegal
It's an interesting question whether drugs are banned because they are harmful, or strictly because they are performance-enhancing. Many very innocuous substances are banned. For example, caffeine will give a positive test result above a certain level. My understanding is that you would fail with a large dose of No-Doz or similar stay-awake product. So the potential harm to athletes' health is very small.

Anyway, we are getting pretty far away from curling here ... I suspect performance-enhancing drug use in curling is about as low as any sport out there.

At 8/30/2005 9:20 a.m., Blogger Amateur said...

OK, I did a little research and found the WADA Prohibited List. You will note that some substances are banned for all sports period, some are banned in competition only (notably stimulants), and some are banned only in specific sports.

I also note that my comment above is incorrect; caffiene (as of 2004) is no longer on the prohibited list.


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