30 July 2007

Water-is-wet award

The first in a new series of accolades, awarded for services to rediscovering the obvious.

The New Scientist boggles over what distinguishes top athletes from lesser mortals. What explanation first comes to their minds? Well, drugs, of course.

Some say many extreme endurance athletes are drugged up to their eyeballs. Indeed, last year's Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis, could be stripped of his title because he failed a drug test. His predecessor, Lance Armstrong, was also accused of drug abuse, though he has always denied the allegation and has never failed a drugs test. ... Yes, the spectre of performance-enhancing drugs looms large over extreme competitive sports ...
But hang on a moment, could it possibly be something else as well? Wait, I've nearly got it ... yes ... it could be — Eureka, is it — genes?!
Could there be a more natural explanation for some athletes' incredible abilities? One possibility is that some people are simply natural born superhumans. Sure, training and mental drive play major roles, but — all other things being equal — the key to gaining the ultimate competitive advantage might be hidden in our genes.
Thank you for that cutting-edge insight, NS. (To read the full article requires a subscription, but you can get the gist from the beginning.)