In august 1998 a law was passed so as the substance insulin was prohibited in Britain and could only be obtained by prescription due to its adverse effects on an athletes performance. The International Olympic Committee banned it. However the ban doesn't apply to diabetic athletes who's lives depend on this controversial drug. Dr Verroken commented on this and gave his professional opinion by stating "we shouldn't say that diabetics are gaining an unfair advantage" (Source: www. newscientist. com "Athletes may be increasingly abusing insulin").
Because diabetics have a reduced insulin level in their body they need an insulin "top-up" so as their bodies are healthy and can function to their best ability and as they are meant to. So in theory diabetic athletes don't gain an advantage as they have normal insulin amounts. But many athletes totally disagree with this. Their opinions are that athletes compete at their natural physical level. (source: Matthew McGovern)None insulin dependant athletes have adapted their bodies through hard work and determination over years so as they can naturally perform their best.
If a none insulin dependant athlete was to be beaten in competitions their first response id that of the fact that the diabetic athlete has administered access insulin into their blood stream. They may think they are being morally cheated. Insulin works in diabetics in two main ways. In stamina athletes, such as body builders it works in co-ordination with anabolic steroids for instance human growth hormone or testosterone to consolidate muscle tissue. It works in such a way that the steroids actually initiate new muscle and the insulin then prevents it from being broken down.
It can also sustain stamina in runners and track performers enabling their muscles to be loaded with glycogen. But to achieve this, athletes have to take glucose and insulin simultaneously for a few hours, therefore infusing them using a technique called hyperinsulinaemic clamp. With hyperinsulinaemic clamps being known to increase the rate of glucose metabolism twelve fold. But if taking anabolic steroids for non-medical requirements then the user is increasing their chances of damaging their reproductive health, and an overdose of insulin can lead to a trigger of a fatal coma.
Scientists believe that the insulin clears so much sugar from the blood and therefore starving the brain of oxygen and energy. Many sports persons have the knowledge of what boosting your bodies' insulin levels can have on their sporting ability. Many know of what can happen but sometimes their craving and need of being so physically adapted that they risk it at all costs to be a revolutionary and unique athlete. (source: Biological dictionaries http://restools. sdsc. edu/biotools/biotools27. html and www. ewscientist. com "Athletes may be increasingly abusing insulin") Because of insulin's sheers simplicity it is known as the "ideal opportunity" for athletes. With it taking only a few minutes for the insulin to disappear into the body and even if it was detected there is no way of proving that it's not the athletes insulin. So for these reasons it has become the testing authorities enemy. But with their being no actual documental proof of these methods being used 'street talk' is indicating that it isn't unusual.
Another athlete modifying method being almost impossible to identify is that of gene-modified athletes. In the not to distant future it is believed that athletes will be able to genetically modify their DNA and according to leading professionals it will be almost impossible to identify. According to Charles Yesalis who is an expert in the field of performance enhancing drugs it could be as soon as the 2008 Olympics on Beijing (source www. newscientist. com "scientist raise spectre of gene-modified athletes").
The reason they think it will be impossible to identify is due to the fact that athletes may be injecting themselves with exact copies of the genes that are naturally present in the body, particularly those encoding growth factors or testosterone. One of the main problems that have been brought to the attention of athletes is that the risks are phenomenally high as the therapies have not been fully tested and researched. Another possibility of genetically modifying an athlete's body is what is now known as "blood boosters".
This involves injecting the gene for erythropoietin, commonly known as EPO. It is a protein, which boosts an athlete's red blood cell level that in turn boosts its ability to transport oxygen on the blood stream. Existing cases of this are that of an entire cycling team in the tour de France for using the drug to alter their ability to perform. The only problem with this is that the EPO gene is very hard to spot, as it is identical to that of the bodies own EPO levels, unless using the synthetic protein strands.
Another method of inducing more blood to travel around the body is that of the vascular endothelial growth factor, commonly known as VEGF. The VEGF is boosted by a genetically modified virus and is used for patients with the painful atherosclerotic disease. (source www. newscientist. com "scientist raise spectre of gene-modified athletes")The arteriosclerosis disease affects people by constricting the blood vessels in limbs. The VEGF levels are boosted by therapy that in turn widens the blood vessels.
But with increasing competition for athletes this process has been tested on athletes who wish to illegally push themselves to the limit but taking this GM drug and increase the blood supply to the muscles, which means more oxygen can travel to the muscles. With a common cold virus being used to deliver the VEGF it would be problematical to actually prove that the athlete had been cheating. I myself feel that the methods now used to improve an athlete's success in the sports confederation have now been blown dramatically blown out of proportion.
As Charles Yesalis, Professor of Health Policy and Administration, and Exercise and Sport Science once said: "Currently the battle is over who has the best chemists, in the future it will be who has the best gene therapists," (source www. newscientist. com "scientist raise spectre of gene-modified athletes"). The battle for sporting supremacy is no longer a case of cheating the authorities for drug testing but now cheating oneself out of the feeling of being the best at what the do as testing for drugs is now a modern impossibility.