Reader email kicking it off:
Subject: Armstrong, etc.
Does the tour want to come clean? Publish the exceptions list of every medication every rider took over the last 10 years. That’s right — let’s find out who was doped up legally. And don’t forget — doped up for the tour organizer’s benefit. I could give a flip less about anybody passing tests — I want to know every freaking medication that every rider was allowed to swallow, inject, spread on, spray, or inject up his ass.
Robert has a point. I read a study synopsis where “athletes who participated in cycling and mountain biking had the highest prevalence of having been told that they had asthma or had taken an asthma medication in the past (50%)” at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
“45% of cyclists and emountain bikers” reported to have “active” asthma. Those who take “asthma medications on a permanent or semipermanent basis and were considered to have active asthma.” No explanation given as to what in the hell an “emountain biker” is.
Nearly half the US field took asthma medications on a permanent or semipermanent basis.
The citation can be found at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and is listed below:
BACKGROUND: Asthma prevalence appears to be increasing in the general population. We sought to determine whether asthma prevalence has also increased in highly competitive athletes.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to determine how many United States Olympic athletes who were chosen to participate in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games had a past history of asthma or symptoms that suggested asthma or took asthma medications.
METHODS: We analyzed responses to questions that asked about allergic and respiratory diseases on the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Medical History Questionnaire that was completed by all athletes who were chosen to represent the US at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
RESULTS: Of the 699 athletes who completed the questionnaire, 107 (15.3%) had a previous diagnosis of asthma, and 97 (13.9%) recorded use of an asthma medication at some time in the past. One hundred seventeen (16.7%) reported use of an asthma medication, a diagnosis of asthma, or both (which was our basis for the diagnosis of asthma). Seventy-three (10. 4%) of the athletes were currently taking an asthma medication at the time that they were processed in Atlanta or noted that they took asthma medications on a permanent or semipermanent basis and were considered to have active asthma. Athletes who participated in cycling and mountain biking had the highest prevalence of having been told that they had asthma or had taken an asthma medication in the past (50%). Frequency of active asthma varied from 45% of cyclists and emountain bikers to none of the divers and weight lifters. Only about 11% of the athletes who participated in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games were reported to have had exercise-induced asthma on the basis of other criteria that may have been less restrictive. On the basis of these less restrictive criteria, more than 20% of the athletes who participated in the 1996 Olympic Games might have been considered to have had asthma.
CONCLUSIONS: Asthma appeared to have been more prevalent in athletes who participated in the 1996 Summer Games than in the general population or in those who participated in the 1984 Summer Games. This study also suggests that asthma may influence the sport that an athlete chooses.
The problem with the study is there is a marked disconnect between those athletes who actually have asthma, the aforementioned “asthma prevalence”, those who have asthma and find a performance benefit in the use of asthma medications, and those who just find a performance benefit in the use of asthma medications. The study does not address this issue.
11% of the total US athlete population at the 1984 Olympic Games was reported to have asthma. That went up to 20% in just twelve short years. It doubled.
In 1984, the US National Team used blood doping to win the gold. (Ace job, Grewal) Once blood doping became a banned practice, I believe the use of therapeutic exemptions for substances such as asthma medications (read: bronchial dilators) became more prevalent. And why not, you get a doctor to write a script and you’re in business.by