This coming September, alongside the stirring spectacle of Olympic competition in Sydney, there will be another struggle so complex that the average viewer will probably have a hard time grasping the rules, let alone getting excited about it. Unfortunately, the loser will be fair competition.
The use of performance-enhancing drugs has long been one of the darkest aspects of sport, but the shadow has grown longer in recent years as evidence accrues that athletes are increasingly turning to two drugs relatively new on the doping scene: erythropoietin and human growth hormone. Like hundreds of other substances that are formally banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), these two are effective and fairly easy to get. Unlike the other agents, however, erythropoietin and human growth hormone are undetectable with the technology that sports officials currently use to catch drug cheats.