Reviews TV

Cheating at Athens: Is it Worth it?

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 12 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:407
  1. Domhnall MacAuley, general practitioner
  1. Belfast

    Channel 4, 12 August at 9 pm

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    Tabloid science; the randomised controlled trial meets reality television; or Big Brother goes sporty? Take 24 volunteers, give one group anabolic steroids (testosterone enanthate) and placebo to the other, train them hard, monitor their performance, create a mini Olympics, and film the study. The personalities, the environment, the competition, the slightly eccentric scientist, and over-hyped athletes: these are all the components of a television drama. And yet, from what we see, the science is good: a double blind randomised controlled trial, a scientific setting, with proper informed consent, medical monitoring, outcomes measurement, and uncertainty about the result. As an insight into competition, the dynamics of a training camp, athletes' concerns about anabolic steroids, and their side effects, this programme made compelling viewing for those with even a passing interest in sport.

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