The Olympics and the Doctors

A New England Journal of Medicine article explores the history of the Olympic Games as an object of "medical scrutiny," with some interesting highlights:

Physicians have been interested in the Olympics for many reasons. In the 1920s, they probed the limits of human physiology. One group studied the Yale heavyweight rowers who won gold in Paris. An ingenious contraption revealed that at their racing speed — 12 mph — the eight men produced four horsepower, a 20-fold increase over resting metabolism (1925). A 1937 study published in the Journal showed that athletes at the 1936 Berlin games consumed 7300 calories each day (1937).

Of course, physicians are currently most fascinated by the effects and progress of performance-enhancing drugs:

Doping in the Tour de France

Why does Levitt find Landis's allegations so compelling? He describes in great specificity and detail scenarios involving refrigerators hidden in closets, and the precise temperature at which the blood stored in those refrigerators had to be kept; and faked bus breakdowns during which Lance received blood transfusions while lying on the floor of the bus, etc. To make up stories of this kind, with that sort of detail, strikes Levitt as a difficult task.

Baseball’s Jet Lag Drag

Major League Baseball teams that travel through three time zones or more are at a significant disadvantage against their time-adjusted opponents, according to a new study by neurologist W. Christopher Winter of the Martha Jefferson Sleep Medicine Center. The performance impairment diminishes with each day a given team has to acclimate to the new time […]

Shermer on the Doping Dilemma

Michael Shermer, author of Mind of the Market and columnist extraordinaire at Scientific American, delivers an excellent column in this issue on sports doping. Shermer, it turns out, was a competitive cyclist who observed the rise of doping first-hand. He offers a number of suggestions for fighting illegal doping, such as disqualifying all team members […]

Is There Another Way to Eliminate Doping? A Guest Post

Levitt blogged the other day about Yale Law student Aaron Zelinsky‘s proposal for ending steroid use in Major League Baseball. Now here’s an anti-doping counter-proposal from Joe Lindsey, a sports writer and blogger/contributor at Bicycling magazine. You may remember Joe from another guest post, in which he also countered an earlier Freakonomics doping post. So […]

The FREAK-est Links

Thieves hack Monster.com, steal user info. (Earlier.) Study shows we’re poor predictors of our own emotions. (Earlier.) Advertisers to see your every detail on Facebook. Gambling to be monitored at U.S. Open. No word on doping. (Earlier.)

Is This Lance Armstrong’s Year?

The wheels seem to have come off the Tour de France. This year’s race, with a ceremonial start in London, is of course absent the retired Lance Armstrong, whom Americans learned to love and the French grew to hate in seemingly direct proportion. But the race this year is also missing Floyd Landis, last year’s […]

A Sentence That Should Strike Fear Into the Heart of Every Doping Cyclist

From an Associated Press report out of Rome: Giro d’Italia champion Ivan Basso admitted involvement in the Spanish doping scandal and is cooperating with sports authorities. It is hard to overestimate the value of a cooperating witness. Think of the damage, e.g., that Sammy Gravano did to John Gotti and the rest of the Gambino […]