Policy

Mutant Synchronized Divers and Gene-Doped Gymnasts

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mutants?

In today's NYT Science Times, my former boss John Tierney proposes a dope and let dope approach to the Olympics.

Sure, pumping 15-year-old full of anabolic steroids might not be copacetic, but steroids and other enhancement techniques don't seem to do much lasting damage to adults—perhaps less than the knee-busting, concussion-inducing, back-throwing sports themselves. And it's not likely that testing will keep pace as doping becomes subtler and more gene-oriented.

Tierney's proposal:

I'd like to see what would happen if someone started a new anything-goes competition for athletes over 25. If you have any ideas for how to run it or what to call it — MaxMatch? UltraSports? Mutant Games? — submit them at nytimes.com/tierneylab. Maybe fans would object to these "unnatural" athletes. But maybe not. The fans, after all, include people with laser-corrected eyes, chemically whitened teeth and surgically enhanced anatomies. Not to mention the pharmacopeia coursing through our veins.

Plus, every one likes to see a record well and truly smashed, even if there is an asterisk in the record books. 

Geek note: For those interested in the idea of genetically and mechanically enhanced beings battling it out in games and war, you should read Dan Simmons' Ilium and Olympos, a science fiction recasting of the Iliad and the Odyssey, with nanobot-powered and gene-doped gods.

More on the joys of steroids here and here.