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Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The science behind drugs in sport

Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The science behind drugs in sport [Kindle Edition]

Chris Cooper
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Description


this [is an] authoritative primer on the science of doping Brian Schofield, Sunday Times {Culture} An interesting and informative book ... This book would be an excellent accompaniment to the coverage of the Olympic games this summer. Chemistry World [This book] provides for the first time an in-depth explanation of how drugs can improve sporting performance. Mark Perryman, Morning Star [a] pacy account Nature Magazine

Product Description

Drugs in sport are big news and the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport is common. Here, Chris Cooper, a top biochemist at the University of Essex, looks at the science behind drugs in sport. Using the performance of top athletes, Cooper begins by outlining the limits of human performance. Showing the basic problems of human biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy, he looks at what stops us running faster, throwing longer, or jumping higher. Using these evidence-based
arguments he shows what the body can, and cannot, do. There is much curiosity about why certain substances are used, how they are detected, and whether they truly have an effect on the body. Cooper explains how these drugs work and the challenges of testing for them, putting in to context whether the
'doping' methods of choice are worth the risk or the effort.

Exploring the moral, political, and ethical issues involved in controlling drug use, Cooper addresses questions such as 'What is cheating?', 'What compounds are legal and why?', 'Why do the classification systems change all the time?', and 'Should all chemicals be legal, and what effect would this have on sport?'. Looking forward, he examines the recent work to study the physical limitations of rat and mice behaviour. He shows that, remarkably, simple genetic experiments producing 'supermice'
suggest that there may be ways of improving human performance too, raising ethical and moral questions for the future of sport.

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More About the Author

I'm a biochemist with over 20 years research and teaching experience. I obtained a PhD in 1989, a Medical Research Council Fellowship in 1992, and a Wellcome Trust University Award in 1995. In 1997 I won the Melvin H. Knisely Award for 'Outstanding international achievements in research related to oxygen transport to tissue' . In 1999 I became a Professor in the Centre for Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Essex, where I am the current Head of Research. My research interests include testing muscle oxygen devices to aid UK athletes in training for the Olympics. In 2008, I edited a book for sports science students entitled "Drugs and Ergogenic Aids to Improve Sport Performance". Run, Swim, Throw Cheat is my first book aimed at the general public. Follow my blog at and find out more about my research at

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Run, swim, throw, Cheat, Review 20 May 2012
It's a curious phenomena, but adding the word "popular" to any academic subject seems to carry with it a perjorative tag (eg "popular science", "popular history"). There seems to be a feeling in some quarters that having a book labelled as 'popular' is a way of saying that it is contributing to the general dumbing down of the masses.
However in many ways nothing could be further from the truth, as popular [(insert your chosen topic here)] books are notoriously difficult to get right and having read a panoply over the years you realise there is a real art to getting them spot on.

It is with pleasure, therefore, that I can report that this book is one of those few to get it right...and so very right!

Not only is this a masterclass in how to write clear spare scientific prose but it also manages to simplify fairly complex topics without sacrificing accuracy on the Altar of the jealous 'god' Booksales. This of course isn't easy to do and so it's not done perfectly ....but few things are perfect are they?

The books point of departure is the now notorious event of the 100m mens final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics where the majority of those taking part can be seen to have been tainted with the stigma of having used (potentially or obviously) performance enhancing drugs at one point in time or another.

The books then describes the why's and the how's of this subject by delving into the physiology, pharmacology and genetics of exercise. It is quite up to date and I would recommend it to all science students doing A-levels all the way up to PhD's and beyond (and to anyone else interested in the topic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good work but hard going! 29 Jun 2012
By Cazz
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I must say at the start that the book is a well written, well set out and thorough account of doping in sports. That being said, I can't believe I'm the only reader who struggled with the lengthy biochemistry sections. As a doctor, the science wasn't new to me, and I could understand it, but was still bored by the depth of detail in some sections. I think if I did not have a science background I would definitely have struggled.

I would also have liked some more detail of real cases/ athletes- the BALCO scandal and Tour de france drugs debacle were alluded to frequently, but some specific case studies would have livened up some of the more deadly biochemistry chunks!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting if complicated. 6 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As someone who is researching performance-enhancing drugs in sport, I found this book very interesting and will use it in the future as a reference tool. It is, without doubt, quite complicated, but certainly worth reading through the heavy science parts. I do not come from a science background, but I did want to know some of the scientific details on how testing is done, how drugs work etc. This book worked well for me in that regard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Sports Science, you will love this 30 Nov 2012
By Liam
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a rare breed, in that it is both a story and a science book in one fantastic amalgamation of what one would want from a sports book.

I read this book as I wanted to understand how drugs work. This book explains the effects in reasonable scientific detail without getting bogged down too much. The author weaves a good intermittent web of story and science. For example a brief history of testosterone use in sport, from testicles to modern day is covered, followed by chemical structural differentiations between nandrolone and testosterone. A great number of drugs are covered including amphetamines, testosterone, cortisone, HGH etc.

This is not just for those interested in sports and drugs but any person looking to improve their sporting performance. You will certainly find new information here of use. The sections on muscle growth covering myostatin and other protein functions etc are quite good.

I am sure the author could easily expand this book to be much longer if it were not a `restrictive subject'. However the conclusions would ultimately remain the same - drugs help, but so does self-belief.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Popular Science with lots of tangents 14 Nov 2012
By Ryuto
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
(I should preface this review with the fact I was looking for more of an academic book with lots od detail and not much in the way of a narrative. This book does not fulfill those criteria).

This book is fine if you're a slightly familiar with physiology/pharmacology and the information here is useful. It does tend to be a bit long-winded and some of the tangents are a bit irritating when you want to get to the point but that is in a big part due to it being inappropriate for my needs. After reading and understanding it, you will be well versed in the the how doping is used in sport and, like me, you may even suspect drug use in sports more ubiquitous than is commonly suggested in the media and that's a difficult pill to swallow (pun intended). You'll begn looking at the nation's sporting heroes in a new, cynical light because if a few athletes are doping, then what chance do the others have unless they are too.....?
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