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IOC Passes Doping Reforms

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) convened in December and approved a number of reforms, including several that address doping issues in competitive athletics. Other changes targeted recent high-profile problems with host-city selection, IOC structure, and finances.

Antidoping Reform: Details and Reaction

According to IOC press releases, the group voted to:

  • Work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to distribute "passports" that contain athletes' doping control and health information. (WADA is an independent international antidoping agency that arose from the February 1999 IOC World Conference on Doping in Sport. See "IOC Conference Produces Plan for Antidoping Agency," March 1999, page 21.)
  • Ban from the Olympic Games sports that do not apply the IOC's antidoping code or perform out-of-competition testing. (Some sports federations have had antidoping policies that are different from that of the IOC.)
  • Include antidoping language in the athletes' Olympic oath.
  • Ask WADA to study and implement a recommendation that, when doping sanctions are appealed, the athlete's B (confirmatory) sample is tested by a different laboratory than the one that tested the athlete's A (initial) sample.

Don H. Catlin, MD, who as director of the Olympic Analytical Laboratory at the University of California at Los Angeles monitors IOC doping policy changes, says the IOC's actions raise several questions. He notes that a "passport" system might be complex, difficult to administer, and ineffective for certain substances. "How does a passport manage the growth hormone or EPO [erythropoietin] problem?" he asks.

Catlin says the IOC's proposal to ban sports that don't adhere to its doping code is a good idea but that ambiguities in the IOC's new medical code could present a new host of problems. "The international sports federations could say that they do not understand—and they could be right," he says.

When sanctions are appealed, the plan to have a different lab test an athlete's B sample could produce a "minefield" of problems, Catlin says. Issues that are likely to arise include sample chain-of-custody and storage, selection of a second lab, and legal delays. "This will have the appearance of being a step forward because it seems like a natural justice step or simple fairness," Catlin says but he adds that the problems have never been with the labs.

New Doping Agency Takes Shape

Meanwhile, the board of the newly created WADA met for the first time on January 12 and 13 to establish administrative procedures and to set a budget and agenda for 2000. The group plans to be operational before the Sydney Olympics begin on September 15. The board will meet again on March 22 in Lausanne.

Barry R. McCaffrey, director of the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, addressed the WADA board. "We believe WADA can manage drug test results during the Sydney and Salt Lake City games in a transparent, accountable, and effective manner," McCaffrey said in a press release. "We owe it to the athletes to create a drug-free Olympics. The world is watching."

Also, a new IOC antidoping code, adopted in February 1999 at the World Conference on Doping in Sport, went into effect on January 1 ( The code defines doping, describes testing procedures, lists prohibited substances, details sanctions, defines appeals procedures, and lists accredited labs.

Lisa Schnirring

The Sports Medicine Community Remembers Gail Butterfield

Gail E. Butterfield, PhD, RD, an expert in sports nutrition and an editorial board member of The Physician and Sportsmedicine, died at age 56 of a brain tumor on December 27, 1999, according to information from her friends and colleagues.

Butterfield was director of sports nutrition for the Stanford University Sports Medicine Program in Stanford, California, and director of the Nutrition and Aging Study Unit in the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. She helped establish nutrition and exercise courses in the Department of Human Biology at Stanford.

She published more than 60 research articles, book chapters, and editorials and is best known for research in protein metabolism in active people and her insistence that research participants at high altitude be studied under energy and nitrogen balance conditions. She helped clarify the understanding of the effects of hypoxia on substrate utilization.

Her next research project, which was to begin this spring, was to study the effects of high altitude hypoxia and cachexia on physical performance at altitude. The study was to be undertaken with members of the US Army Institute for Environmental Research Medicine.

She was active in the American College of Sports Medicine in many capacities, including a term as vice president. She served on the editorial boards of, and reviewed for, several nutrition and physiology journals.

Anne Loucks, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, was a friend and colleague of Butterfield's. "She will be missed for the enormous service she provided to professional organizations, for her scientific contributions, for her mentorship to students, and for the friendship she showed to many colleagues," Loucks says.

Butterfield's friends, George A. Brooks, PhD, and Melinda Manore, PhD, shared with The Physician and Sportsmedicine a tribute that they wrote. In it they note, "Gail will be remembered for her love of science, her contributions to the advancement of nutrition and exercise, as a teacher, mentor of young women scientists, and as a wonderful friend and devoted mother." Brooks is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Califonia at Berkeley, and Manore is a professor in the Department of Family Resources and Human Development at Arizona State University.

Butterfield is survived by a daughter.

Field Notes

Anabolic Steroid Use Up in Young Teens
Though overall illicit drug use decreased slightly among American adolescents in 1999, the use of anabolic steroids increased in some groups, according to a press release from the University of Michigan. The study of self-reported drug-use trends was conducted by the school's Institute for Social Research (ISR).

The increase in anabolic steroid use was noted in boys in their early to middle teens; for example, the number of 8th-grade boys reporting anabolic steroid use rose from 1.6% in 1998 to 2.5% in 1999. Researchers noted that the increase did not vary by region or community size.

Lloyd D. Johnston, PhD, a senior research scientist at the ISR, said in the press release that he thinks Mark McGwire's reported use of androstenedione, combined with his setting a home run record, affected young boys. "Surely it gave them the idea that it could make them stronger," he said. "But it also appears to have reassured some about the safety of using steroids." Johnson noted that McGwire announced he had stopped using androstenedione in early 1999 because of his concern about his role model status.

The ISR has been tracking drug use trends among high school students since 1975. Students complete a self-administered, optically scanned questionnaire in the spring of each year. The 1999 sample size includes 45,000 students from 433 secondary schools.

CPSC Promotes Helmets for Skiers, Snowboarders
In December 1999, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an advisory for skiers and snowboarders to wear helmets to prevent head injuries.

According to the CPSC, 16,000 head injuries were reported among these two groups in 1998. The CPSC estimates that wearing helmets specifically designed for skiing and snowboarding may prevent or reduce the severity of 7,000 head injuries. Aside from wearing an appropriate helmet, the CPSC recommends the following safety tips:

  • Select the right equipment with proper fit.
  • Seek proper training and don't ski or board beyond ability.
  • Maintain control on the slopes and follow posted rules.
  • Avoid skiing or snowboarding alone.
  • Become physically fit before participating in these sports.
  • Wear warm, close-fitting clothes that are less likely to become tangled in lifts, tow ropes, and ski poles.

USOC Names Physician Team for Summer Olympics
The official physicians for the US athletes in the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, in October are Brock Schnebel, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Oklahoma City who will serve as head physician; Michael Burns, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in St Louis; Timothy M. Hosea, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Brent S.E. Rich, MD, ATC, a family practice physician in Phoenix; Paul R. Stricker, MD, a sports medicine pediatrician in Nashville; James B. Robinson, MD, a family practice physician in Northport, Alabama; David L. Walden, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs; David M. Weinstein, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs; and Angela R. Wheeler, MD, a primary care physician in Marysville, Indiana.

How Do Teams Respond to Tragedy?
Predicting how a sports team will respond to grave news is difficult, but Michael M. Sachs, PhD, a sports psychologist in the Department of Kinesiology at Temple University in Philadelphia, discussed the impact of tragedy on sports teams in a university press release.

In December 1999 the Philadelphia Flyers learned that their head coach, Roger Nielson, had multiple myeloma, and in January learned that Lauren Hart, who sings the national anthem at every Flyers game, has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Serious illnesses are likely to bring teams together, Sachs says. "It makes them think 'Maybe I should be trying a little harder out there,'" he said in the press release. "At the same time, it brings the players back to reality and lets them realize that it's only a game they're playing."

In contrast, Sachs said that the sudden death of a player, such as that of Charlotte Hornets' team captain and guard Bobby Phills, who died in a car accident on January 12, increases the chance that the team will go into a slump. "There's more of a physical element there. The Flyers will still see Nielson and Lauren Hart every day, but Phills is gone forever," he said. "That type of loss can be very difficult to deal with emotionally, and the team has the more pragmatic concerns of having lost a key player."


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