Letters to the editor

Lettres au rédacteur

To the editor:

Champion (May 1980) contains a very revealing bit of information about Angella Taylor’s recent rise to success. I see that the bionic athlete has now arrived in Canada. Electrical muscle stimulation is a highly questionable practice in the world of amateur sport. Surely it is within the bounds of Game Plan and Sport Canada to make a judgement on this training “technique”.

As a scientist, I find the process of electrical muscle stimulation very interesting. However, as an athlete, I question the ethics of any artifical training method. Surely our goal as athletes is not to win at any cost, but rather to win by hard and intelligent training.

It appears that coaches in general have not been educated in the role of science in the betterment of athletes. For example, in a recent issue of Track and Field News, an English coach was reported to have advocated blood doping, the artifical replacement of the athlete’s own blood after storage for a period of two to three months, because it was cheaper than altitude training and more certain to produce results! This type of practice would certainly limit world class performances to athletes from countries with the best sport physicians and not those with the best athletes.

It is probably mere coincidence that the review of the late Doug Gilbert’s book on the East German sport system follows on the next page. Yes, we must accept the fact that political gain may lead to questionable ethical practices, but surely that does not mean that we have to follow the same techniques which we criticize in others.

Richard L. Hughson, Ph. D,
Assistant Professor
Kinesiology Department,
University of Waterloo.