Doping at the old folks’ home


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- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


There’s a fun article by John Leland in the New York Times looking at drug use among masters track and field athletes:

In his apartment outside Philadelphia, Frank Levine pulled a list of prescription medications from his refrigerator, his hands shaking slightly. There was metformin HCl and glipizide for his diabetes; lisinopril for his blood pressure; and Viagra.

“I need it,” he said recently.

Mr. Levine, who is 95 and has had operations on both knees, in June set the American record in the 400-meter dash for men ages 95 to 99…

Leland interviews a few athletes who suspect that some people are dipping into banned drugs in order to win prizes in advanced age groups. It’s hard to imagine an 80-year-old shot-putter injecting himself with steroids, but I guess we should never underestimate the power of human vanity. The grey area, as the article points out, is that there are plenty of performance enhancing drugs that also have real therapeutic benefits — and the older you get, the greater the chance that you’re legitimately being prescribed one of these drugs.