NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK
As part of University wide events for National Science Week Performance 2012 invited A level and GCSE pupils from local schools and collages to come and learn more about drugs in sport. Students were given the chance to carry out a mock drugs test and this was followed by a debate on the ethics of the use of drugs and gene doping in sport. This session could be reapeated in a school or a similar environment.
DRUGS TESTING LABORATORY SESSION
The aims of these workshops are to
Resources are available to run your own drug tesing laboratory.
The students deduced from their experimental findings that out of the 4 athlete's samples tested, one was well within the normal range (1-24 mU/ml), one sample was on the borderline of normal range, one sample was above the threshold but not by much and the last athletes EPO levels were a long way above the threshold.
Following the time in the laboratory, pupils should be encouraged to debate which of the mock athletes they believed to be cheating and the implications and issues associated with this.
The outcome of the drug testing lab session may not be as clear as the test suggests. Areas to highlight and discuss include-
Pupils could then be introduced to a new threat to the integrity of sporting events, the use of gene doping by athletes to enhance their performance. Gene doping is defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as "the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance". There are at least 187 genes linked to athleticism, all of which could potentially be altered to enhance sporting performance.
Laboratory examples of gene doping-
Whilst there is no evidence of gene doping currently being used in sport, WADA was sufficiently concerned that, in 2004, it added it to its list of banned technologies.
Using mind-maps, students discussed the ethical arguments for and against the use of gene doping in sport, thinking about these issues as-
If you would like some more ideas for debating the use of drugs in sport have a look at this Debate-Kit-for-Drugs-in-Sport from The Physiological Society.
Listen to the edited podcast of this session.