July 29, 2016
Amazing to think that the Rio Olympics opening ceremony takes place a mere week from now.
I am, currently, enjoying the good fortune of mixing with Olympians from several countries who will be headed there for the open water swim events. This weekend I am in Roberval, Canada (3 hours north of Quebec City), at Lac St. Jean — where the FINA/HOSA 10K marathon World Cup and 32K Gran Prix events are taking place.
I am a FINA medical delegate at these events. I have written about this experience before in a 2013 blog post: the 32K Gran Prix event coincides with an historic open water swim that has been done for decades on this lake, the Traversee internationale du lac St-Jean.
It is a great pleasure to be involved in an international sporting event like this one. The local organizing committee does fabulous work. I am privileged to work with fellow FINA representatives from New Zealand and France. Outside of the work hours, we get to socialize some and partake in the hospitality of the Roberval community.
I also greatly enjoy working for the athletes, watching out for their health and safety. I genuinely enjoy getting to know them and experience vicariously the thrill of their competition. The joy and challenges of sport are a special dimension of human culture — I am sure this is what leads many of us to sports medicine.
I think it is those broader, aspirational aspects of sport that lead many of us in the sport medicine community to push back on efforts to cheat, such as doping. And it’s no surprise that for an elite, international event like this one FINA has doping surveillance as part of its core mission. One of the roles I play during my time on site is to supervise the excellent work done by representatives of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which conducts post-race testing on select individuals many of whom, as I have indicated, will be swimming soon in Rio, where we already have had headline-making doping news before the games have even begun!
We have published frequently on the issue of doping in the pages of CJSM and these blog pages. We hope you take this chance to click on those links and look at some of that work, in advance of the upcoming Olympics. And, since it’s Friday, it’s time to follow something new — I would suggest the Facebook page of FINA, which is so well done, and will be hopping with information about this weekend’s Traversee and next month’s Olympics.
Enjoy the Games! Let them be competitive, safe, and clean.