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I was recently whiling away a few joyful hours in transit in yet another anonymous airport on the way to another conference. After contemplating why in American airports it is physically impossible to get any sort of food that is capable of sustaining a healthy life, I felt the need to search for something to read. At a news stand, I found a copy of the Worst Case Survival Handbook (by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, Hardie Grant Books) to re-read. I was of course immediately taken by the instructions on how to foil an alien abduction. Some of you may think this is somewhat farfetched however I draw your attention to a recent survey that suggested 4 million Americans have been the victims of such events. Forearmed with that knowledge and with one eye looking for flying saucers, I was entranced.
The first reassuring suggestion in such situations was not to panic. I seem to recall the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy offers similar advice, and more importantly had it printed on its cover. Once calm, then attempt to control your thoughts. The extra terrestrial biological entity (or EBE to those in the know) may have the ability to read your mind. Mental pictures of anal probes should be avoided specifically. Once calm and clear, then resist verbally by firmly telling the EBE to leave you alone. Physical resistance should only be used as a last resort!
Although some of the chapters are more in a medical line (for example, how to treat a severed limb) and many useful phrases are helpfully included (“hello, I have been seriously wounded” and my favorite “you will never make me talk”) I was struck by the absence of a sports medicine specific section. Perhaps we could have “how to have a urine drug test at the Olympics” or “what to do when the audiovisuals break down just before your conference presentation” or even “how to survive a sports medicine clinical exam”. I can see a new book coming from those authors designed to fill this gap in our medical armamentarium.
Speaking of drug testing, I see that a recent poll in the Sunday Observer (21 April 2002) suggested that more than half of Britons aged between 18 and 24 have taken illegal drugs. In a time when decriminalisation of many “soft” drugs is being seriously considered, we have the hypocritical situation where our professional athletes are being increasingly tested for the same agents. Clearly many of these are not performance enhancing rather their effects are just the opposite!
How then do we balance our desire for “level playing field” where athletes are free of ergogenic agents? Given that we cannot even test for the newer anabolic hormonal derivatives, the enthusiasm by which athletes are tested for non-ergogenic social drugs seems somewhat surprising. A little common sense would be helpful.
Beam me up, Scottie!