Does sex diminish athletic vigor? Does athletic tape enhance it? These are just a few of the questions that one Reuters correspondent has sought to answer amidst the toil, tears, and sweat at the Summer Olympics in London.
Kate Kelland, who covers health and science news in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for the wire service, has been on the performance beat since the opening ceremony, digging into the latest research on what might pump up or deflate an athlete’s game. Doping is the first thing that comes to mind, of course, and Kelland has had a number of posts on the matter.
In the last week, she has filed a useful factsheet on the “substance and methods used in doping,” and a helpful explainer on why “dope cheats face testing times at London 2012.” There was also a forward-looking piece about how the Games’ anti-doping laboratory will be developed into a world-class drug research center after the athletes have gone home, and an amusing retrospective about how “ancient dopers got their kicks from raw testicles.”
Kelland’s coverage of performance has gone well beyond the realm of pharmaceuticals, however. Most recently, she examined a report published last month by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers entitled, “Sports Engineering: A unfair Advantage?” Following up on “a row that engulfed elite swimming after a 2008 decision by the sport’s international governing body FINA to approve Speedo’s LZR Racer swimsuit for the Beijing Olympic Games,” her post focused on spray-on clothing, one of the potential advances highlighted in the report.
Before that, Kelland tackled music’s effect on performance. The piece is based on an interview with only one scientist, Costas Karageorghis, whom she encountered during the Games, and cites only his research specifically. There’s some indication that “a large body of scientific evidence points to the effects of music on ease of movement, perception of exertion and even on oxygen efficiency during sport,” as Kelland reported, but one review of the research (.doc file) said studies have shown “mixed results.” Instead of getting into that, the piece ended with some anecdotal evidence based on a few Olympians’ listening preferences.