The practice of enhancing physical performance with ingested substances has been around since ancient times. The Greeks were known to use a form of opium; other cultures have used mushrooms and even strychnine. But in modern times, the use of synthetic drugs to enhance athletic performance, commonly referred to as doping, has exploded, as evidenced by the recent massive doping scandals involving legendary athletes in the Tour de France and Major League Baseball. In response, a number of anti-doping organizations have been created to aggressively pursue what they regard as fairness in competition.

The moral and ethical landscape surrounding doping is far from simple. How should we as society determine what are acceptable strategies for performance enhancement and what are not? The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), set up in 1999 by the International Olympic Committee to combat illegal performance enhancement in sports, defines doping as use of drugs that meets two of three criteria: enhancement of athletic performance, harm to health or safety, and violation of the “spirit of the sport”.

While this provides useful guidelines, there are still many complex questions to be debated in the coming years. What are the precise health risks of doping? In the race between scientists who are developing ever-more effective and clandestine performance-enhancing drugs, and those who are developing strategies to detect them and measure their risk, who is winning? How should we weigh the achievements of modern athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs against those of athletes from the past? The speaker will describe the evolution of testing procedures etc.

Speaker: Tim Takahashi

Tim Takahashi has been a Certified Athletic Therapist and Exercise Physiologist working in private practice in Lethbridge since 1998. He worked as a Doping Control Officer at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 in Whistler and has been a member of Team Canada’s Medical staff at multiple Canadian National Judo championships and Canadian National track and field championships.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Tim is a sessional instructor at the University of Lethbridge in the Faculty of Kinesiology and is the current two – time Men’s Judo Lightweight Masters Canadian National Champion. He currently serves as a sports injury and sports performance consultant to many local high performance, Olympic level and professional athletes at the Rebound Health Centre at the University of Lethbridge Sports Medicine Centre.

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