Bringing his experience working with athletes from high school to an elite Olympic level, Bobby Adams, DO, will bring a unique look at the issue of drug testing in sports, particularly track and field, during his session on Sunday at 9 a.m. in Room 11 on the second floor of the convention center.
He said his talk would be different from previous OMED drug testing presentations that focused primarily on the classes of steroids and stimulants. “I will be addressing the broader view or what I call the modern day of doping problems in sports, which began at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin,” said Dr. Adams, who has not only served as a team physician for high schools, colleges, minor league baseball, and USA Track and Field, but also as a volunteer physician for the United States Olympic Team.
His talk “Drug Testing in Sports: Track and Field” is part of the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine program “SMART Medicine: Powerhouse Skills for the Osteopathic Physician.” However, he noted that his talk will include information for DOs in a variety of specialties. “High school associations contact me about how do they handle transgender sports in high school? This is stuff that starts with the family doctors,” he said. “I deal with these issues at the international level, but in the communities, transgender, steroids, stimulants, these things effect high school kids, weekend athletes. All kinds of people are using these or have questions for their family doctor.”
He will cover the history of performance enhancing drugs and how governing organizations have evolved to handle them in addition to new challenges regarding the regulation of athletes. “There’s a lot of drugs that do not last very long in the body, but they cause erythropoietin which stimulates red blood cells,” he explained. “So you take that and in half an hour or less it’s gone. You can’t find it, but its effects last a long time.”
He will describe the process of non-analytical testing in the effort to curtail the performance enhancing effect of these types of drugs, including how an athlete’s biological profile is used.
Dr. Adams will also highlight the challenges of transgender athletes and female athletes with higher than normal testosterone levels and how the governing bodies determine fairness in competition. “A normal level of testosterone in a female is a lot less than a male on average. Even the top female athletes, usually their level is lower than the average of the lowest male,” he said. “So the problem in track and field is to be fair there, so they set certain standards. If a female has testosterone over a certain level, then they have to demonstrate why. Sometimes we find out that they have tumors, or some women have undescended testes, so they have an abnormal advantage over other females.”
He’ll also discuss genetic doping, which is the use of medications developed for people with certain muscle or neurological deficits or vascular deficits. “Athletes can use them to cheat,” he noted. “Right now there’s no way to test for it.”
Dr. Adams said he hopes that those who attend his lecture will learn more about the current methods of illegal performance enhancement in sports and the methods that the governing bodies use to identify, prevent and punish athletes and their supporters who don’t play by the rules.