Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Most of us mention the concept of doping in our A&P courses because it's an ever present issue in our society and therefore a good way to help students apply their knowledge of human structure and function to practical scenerios. In Olympic years, it becomes an even more potent way to draw students interest into the world of human A&P.

Doping in its broadest sense is adding something to the body. We usually think of it in a more specific sense of adding some sort of enhancer to the body, usually into the bloodstream. It could be extra RBCs (blood doping) or erythropoietin (EPO), both of which increase hematocrit (RBC ratio) and thus expand oxygen-carrying capacity and thereby promote improved athletic endurance. Or it could be synthetic androgens to promote the protein anabolism that enhances muscle development and strength.

Did you know that there is a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) with a mission "to promote, coordinate, and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms?" Visit The A&P Professor website to find links to their current "code," the "prohibited list," and how to get their FREE DVD about doping in athletics.

The August 2008 issue of Popular Science magazine has an interesting article about trends in athletic doping called Juicing 3.0. For example, it brings up myostatin blockers that can dramatical increase the size and strength of muscle. And of course, the concept of genetic enhancement is discussed.

Besides referring your students to your school's library (assuming they subscribe to Popular Science), probably the easiest way to share the essential content of this article (in the form of gallery of examples) is to link to from your course website or in an email.

You could use the linked information as an optional resource for those interested in the topic or as a place to send students who ask questions in class. Another idea is to assign it as an online discussion topic in your online/web-enhanced course. Or it could be the subject of an essay in which students apply their knowledge of A&P and also express their own informed opinions.

For an expanded version of this entry, with more tips, links, and resources, visit The A&P Professor website.

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