Yay! The Olympics are here! I love how watching some of the games – hearing their stories and watching them push – really put me in a motivated, “go-get-them” mood – like the Nike ads say, “Just Do It.”
The athletes have so much physical and mental strength to bring them to the top of their field. And luck helps too. With this in mind, I know there’s a biology-anatomy-physiology angle to the games. With the Opening Ceremonies, and recent disqualifications, I figure let’s look at how they will test the athletes for banned substances at the Olympics and ParaOlympic Games.
Drug company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) helped build a state-of-the-art antidoping laboratory in East London, near the site of Olympic Park and the Opening Ceremonies. The lab will be run by King’s College London and will test for 240 illegal compounds, including 60 in just one test.
What the urine samples will go through:
- Centrifuge removes sediment
- Vacuum Manifold System concentrates and purifies the sample
- Hematology Analyzer counts blood cells to counteract blood doping
- Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometer will test for the majority of banned substances automatically
There’s a great video (below) that shows the overall process.
Many Olympic facilities in the past sit idle after the Olympics are over and the athletes and spectators are gone (Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010). Here, they already arranged to transfer the facility to the government’s research organizations: the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). They will transform the lab to study metabolism and genetics – metabolic phenotyping, a field that examines blood, urine, and tissues for the thousands of molecules produced by the body’s chemical reactions, with the aim of linking them up to diseases. The switchover to the MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, as it will be known, is slated for early October, and the center will open for business in January 2013.