The other competition at the London Olympics

19 Jul 2012 2min read

There will be another competition at this summer’s London Olympic Games, one that over half of all athletes will take part in including all of the medal winners. It’s one that they won’t receive any prizes for if they are successful but they will get a lot of attention if they are not, it’s the pursuit for drugs cheats.

The anti-doping campaign for the London Games is an interesting one, it’s the battle of science verses scruples, machines verses morality and equipment verses ethics. On one side there is the anti-doping test laboratory in Harlow, Essex operated by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and King’s College London. On the other side there is a red duck called Squeaky!

squeaky the duck

The GSK lab is prepared to test for 240 prohibited substances every 24 hours, operating 7 days a week. The lab will use state-of-the-art equipment such as the ImageQuant™ LAS4000 manufactured by GE Healthcare. It’s a biomolecular imager that is essential in the testing for recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) used for ‘blood-doping’ that enables a vastly improved oxygen flow, increasing an athlete’s endurance.

Squeaky is Team GB’s less technical, more principled, approach to sports drugs, he is little red rubber duck displaying the logo “I’m Squeaky Clean”. Squeaky will be provided in all GB kit bags, as a reminder to the athletes to show their commitment to clean sport.

Squeaky is part of UK Anti-Doping’s ‘100% Me’ campaign supported by the WADA president who this month stated that “Doping is cheating, plain and simple. And if you compete in London as a doped athlete then not only will you be cheating your fellow athletes, you will be cheating sports fans across the world.”

I don’t know who will win this race but for once let’s hope that it’s a dead-heat… and both are enough of a deterrent to ensure the London Olympic Games are clean.

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