I've been thinking.
Last night was Documentary Night. You know how some people have "Pizza Night" or "Taco Night" or even others have "Stare at Each Other By The Fire Night?" Having some kind of "Night" has apparently become the American way of passing time. Since we Rabids are all about the American way, Spouse and I have a night in the which we watch documentaries. We call it Documentary Night.
Last night's documentary was Bigger Stronger Faster: The Side Effects of Being American. This was a dandy. Let me tell you how dandy this one was. First of all, I didn't fall asleep. That right there speaks volumes, for I fall asleep during everything. This one was interesting enough to keep me awake. More evidence of this documentary's dandyness, is the fact that we started it at 10:00pm. That is sooooo late for me. Soooo late for me. Being a crack-o-dawn runner, a member of the established Crack-o-Dawners, I break the dawn with a run. This means I set the alarm at 4:40am. After the documentary had been on for about 45 minutes, I said "I gotta go to bed" then dragged myself to bed, only to toss a couple of times and return to the television. I just could not go to bed without finishing this Bigger Stronger Faster flick.
This Bigger Stronger Faster documentary (doc for short) is mostly about anabolic steroids. However, a great deal of this documentary had to do with performance enhancing substances. I found the director/writer, this cute little Chris Bell guy, was able to show both sides to the performance enhancing substance debate in a somewhat unbiased manner. I say somewhat unbiased because I now believe it impossible to exist without bias.
I'm mostly on the fence about this steroid/doping issue. I have a good friend, however, that was close to placing at a national track competition, but didn't, hence the "close" part. She learned a few years later that many of those who did place, Marion Jones being one, were busted for doping. That friend would have placed nationally if the Balco people hadn't gotten in the way. (Balco was the company who manufactured anabolic steroids that could not be detected by the current urine testing procedures.) Note that this friend was, and will always be, the fastest white chick in America that year, irregardless of the doping stuff. I just thought of something... maybe she was doping! Care to comment, Winder?
Sometimes I think athletic competitions should just throw in the towel and let the athletes take what they want and inject whoever's whatever they want. Being as it doesn't directly affect me right now/yet, the urgency for having a black/white opinion on the matter just isn't there. If I had a Yahoo on the cusp of Olympic greatness, however, I'm sure I'd propagate an unyielding opinion real quick-like. So quick would I form this opinion, you'd think I was a juicer. The SAHJM (The Stay At Home Juicing Mom.)
One argument I have against these take-all-the-performance-enhancing-you-can-get competitions, is that each sport will become more about who has the best laboratory and less about the sport. Tiresome.
Bigger Stronger Faster was able to reveal enough to get me thinking. Remember up there, like four or five long paragraphs ago, I said "I've been thinking?" I'd like to discuss what's got me thinking.
Let's start with Arnold. Did you know the governor did steroids? Even admitted to it on camera? Gasp. And did you know that the baseball industry was brought to it's knees in 2005 because of the heavy hitters (Sosa, McGuire, Bonds and, like 80% of the majors) getting busted for steroid use? Gasp again. And did you know that congress spent more time in session over this performance enhancing baseball business than it did over Hurricane Katrina, or the initiation of the War on Iraq, or health care? Gasp, gasp, gasp!
The argument for banning these performance enhancing substances is mostly centered around safety. People just don't want their precious role-model athletes to get hurt. However, the documentary points out that steroid use isn't as dangerous as everyone says. For example, in the year of this doc's production, steroid use/abuse caused only three (3) deaths. Three deaths isn't a lot, but it's still too many. However, if you compare that little number with the 75,000 deaths caused by alcohol each year, and the 435,000 deaths each year that are directly associated with tobacco use, that number is just a drop in the Anadrol bucket. Alcohol and tobacco are legal at their prescribed ages while illicit unprescribed steroid use is not. (Death toll stats came from the documentary, which director/writer claims came from the CDC.)
Another issue worth thinking about, is what constitutes illegal performance enhancing. The documentary used Tiger Woods as an example. Not too long ago, Tiger had his eyes fixed. A medical procedure was able to turn his terrible eyesight into 20/15 - which is above perfect. Now. In a game that requires good eyes, and even gooder depth perception, having above perfect eyesight might be considered cheating, yes?
These days, increasing an athletes red blood cell production is the most controversial of performance enhancing methods. Here's how it works: If you have and create more red blood cells, you are carrying more oxygen to the muscles. The more oxygen you have in the muscles, the stronger and longer you can go.
Increasing red blood cell production is a big thing among endurance athletes like runners, cross-country skiers, porn stars, and cyclists. Just kidding about the porn stars upping their red blood cell production. I was just checkin' to see if you're paying attention - although the documentary does say that porn stars inject Viagra into their performing member to help with their performance. Still paying attention?
Anyway, back to red blood cell production. According to the documentary, there are four major ways to increase the number of red blood cells. They are:
- Sleeping in an altitude chamber type thing so as to limit oxygen and simulate high altitude.
- Training at high altitude.
- Removing your own blood several weeks before an event, then re-injecting it the night before. Or injecting someone else's blood the night before an event.
- EPO or erythropoietin - a pharmaceutical grade hormone that, when taken, tells the kidney and liver to jack up your red blood cell functions. Kind of like a monster truck but with a more efficient size to torque ratio.
Of the four ways to increase red blood cell production, two are legal and two are not. Now, why are options #1 and #2 legal and the others are not? I mean, same result, right? Why are #3 and #4 considered "cheating" and the others are not?
With almost a whole day to think about this blood doping situation, I've drummed up a test, a test that will tell us, once-and-fer-all, whether or not this EPO use is cheating.
I call this cheating-or-not test The Rabid EPO Project.
Here's how The Rabid EPO Project works: The Rabid will take EPO while training for this up-coming Saint George marathon. If little ol' mediocre me somehow manages to knock many minutes off the P.R., - say enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials (even though it's not a qualifying year) - this concludes that the EPO is cheating. If I knock only a few minutes, then, well, the EPOs a waste of time and/or resources.
Simple, right? Simple! In the name of science and athletic competition, I am willing to subject myself to the guinea piggery of the EPO. Serious.
I keep track of my training. I organize everything into an excel spreadsheet and have done so for the last three years. I keep track of mileage, heart rate, speed (or slow), altitude changes and cross training. I take good notes. If I do the same training as last year, but with the EPO, this will most definitely give us some data we can work with. And maybe sell to someone for millions. Serious.
This Rabid EPO Project will include its own documentary. I'm thinking a documentary in the style of Super Size Me. Here's what I'll need: A cameraman, some rights to some ESPN footage, a soundtrack, and a doctor to monitor the situation. Oh and EPO. I'll need some EPO.
If any of you are interested in coming with me on my latest journey, and if you can help me with any or all of the items mentioned above (except the soundtrack, I can do that), have your people call my people. Serious.