The father of western medicine, Hippocrates, said, "The doctor of the future will educate his patients in the health of the human skeleton." I believe this is my calling and I will continue to carry the "health" baton to share the important things I've learned over the last 40 years. I run daily, have done marathons myself and have treated some of the fittest professional athletes on the planet--from athletes with the endurance to swim, bike and run for 8-12 hours continuously in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii to Olympians sprinting 100 meters faster than any other human.
What is the price of winning?
As I walked and ran in the fields of Olympia, Greece that hosted more than 250 ancient Olympic Games, I felt a palpable sense of reverence. This beautiful valley city is located about 200 miles west of Athens and 40 miles inland from the Ionian Sea. The first Olympic Games were held there in 776 BC as a tribute to the Greek God Zeus. Events included foot races of various distances, wrestling, discus, javelin, long jump, horse-drawn chariot racing and a type of boxing called pancratium.
the statues as they entered and exited the Olympic Stadium. Those original 13 statues still remain at the stadium entrance today. No, I did not spit on them. Our sports world today is in desperate need of this ancient Olympic mandate as a reminder of the potential consequence of cheating, especially how people reacted to the cheaters. Present day abuse of blood doping, anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, stimulants and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) have mocked the importance of sports' ethics. How many statues would we currently have to erect to reflect all our PED cheaters? Do you know their faces? How many countries would still have the privilege to compete? Additionally, every athlete, coach, doctor, or chemist who supplies these substances are modern day disgrace to professional sports, motivated by the desire to win at all costs, regardless of their lack of ethics. Today, most Olympic athletes have to test positive three times before they are banned for life! Additionally, the short-term gains from using PEDs are surely outweighed by the long-term major health risks. These risks are undeniable and much more is being uncovered and understood about them even as I write this article.
At long last, both Olympic and professional sports have finally begun to address many of these doping issues. However, the pharmacists of many of the drug-cheats still seem to be one step ahead of the testing done by the anti-doping associations, USADA (United States Anti-Doping Assoc.) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Assoc.) That said, mandates from the IOC (International Olympic Committee), international sports federations and enhanced testing techniques have helped. It should be the responsibility of every professional involved in sports to promote a drug-free philosophy to our youth... from doctors to coaches to trainers. If we all help to teach our present-day athletes to understand that victory achieved by illegal means has no worth or significance, we all win! What value do sports really have if they are denigrated into competitions amongst chemical androids?
I do not believe we are yet at the end of the era of artificial athletic enhancement; similar to cigarette smoking, it will take longer to eradicate. There is no question that steroid abuse and the cost burdens the performance-enhancing drug era will have on our national health care system during the next 25 years will be alarming. Yes, we will get old and yes, I believe it is very important to live life by the rules. This includes all the ways in which we care for our bodies, whether we are Olympians, runners, walkers, fitness enthusiasts, young or old, today and tomorrow.
I love the challenge of helping these superior athletes maximize their physical potential, but I get the biggest reward for the work I do with the younger athletes. I always tell them, "Only 99% of our Olympic Track and Field athletes receive regular chiropractic treatments and the Medical Directors of the U.S. Olympic Training Centers are Doctors of Chiropractic." My mission and goal in life are to stay closely connected to our future through these aspiring future Olympians while promoting fair drug-free competitions and global peace via the original Olympic mandates.
Let's see how we can all help achieve these goals!
Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, DC, CCFC
I believe that running is a lifetime sport and our body is our machine. Since we only have one body, we must take care of what we put into it and how we take care of it, to be able to live long and well. Most of us will log at least 200,000 miles on our feet in our lifetimes and many of us will even hit the 500,000-mile mark. A true athlete is someone who maximizes his or her best qualities to allow their body to perform at its optimum without jeopardizing its future. As a chiropractor, I primarily maintain the structural and functional integrity of my patients' bodies through manual, non-surgical manipulation of the joints, tissues, muscles and connective tissues. My graduate studies and clinical experience include nutrition, X-Ray, MRI and other diagnostic studies, physical therapy modalities, prevention methods, movement analysis, and physical conditioning. Most MDs focus on drug therapies and surgical remedies. Ironically, I support using invasive medical procedures and prescription drugs when needed, especially to correct dysfunction and to save lives.
The Olympic Games were so important that every four years for 850 years, all wars or armed disputes were suspended throughout the lands so athletes and spectators could travel safely to Olympia and participate in the Games peacefully. More often than not, the wars did not resume afterwards. The ancient Olympic Games were bigger than today's FIFA Soccer World Cup and the NFL's Superbowl combined. The Games continued for months, not weeks, and included festivals for artisans, sculptors, poets, speeches by religious and cultural leaders sharing their philosophies and ideas. At today's Olympics, spectators and athletes continue this long-standing cultural exchange by trading special collector pins that represent their different countries and sports.
In ancient Greece, cheating at such a revered event as the Olympics was punishable by a lifetime ban of the athlete and even his sponsoring state. This was followed by the erection of a larger than life-sized statue of the disgraced athlete, placed at the entrance to the Olympic Stadium to immortalize the athlete's corruption for eternity. Spectators were reminded each Olympiad of these cheaters and spat upon
I have observed the gamut of these risks firsthand, from the tragic fall of the historic American Olympic athlete, Marion Jones, to knowing a professional colleague who still suffers today from the long-term effects of the past use of anabolic steroids 40 years ago as a collegiate athlete. His ailments include advanced cardiovascular disease, abnormal breast growths (gynecomastia) requiring surgery and premature balding. Many of the athlete drug cheaters I have known over the last 20 years also suffer from I call Post-Steroid Use Rage. Clinically, I don't know if they are depressed due to their present health challenges and/or the consequential changes in their lifestyles due to their past doping.
Athletes or Androids