August 14, 2008

The Olympics: Bring out the nuts

You won't believe this one: Dr. Alexei Koudinov, editor of the Israel-based Doping Journal Web site, claims that swimmer supreme Michael Phelps -- by listening to music before he swims -- has an "unfair advantage":

Intriguing scientific evidence testifies: Listening to music improves blood oxygen capacity and is a performance enhancement.

There could be several mechanisms, says Stefan Koelsch of Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in Leipzig, Germany, who has published 40 articles on the subject of how the body reacts to music. Dr. Koelsch says that "music can have influences on the breathing rate (e.g. via emotional effects such an increased arousal) which will alter oxygen levels in the blood, or relaxing effects (so that fewer muscles consume oxygen, which also increases oxygen levels)." He says that his group "has reported clear changes in breathing rate on a conference last year, with breathing rate being higher during pleasant music." In line with Koelsch conclusion are the data of the research article by Luciano Bernardi group of the University of Pavia, Italy, implying that the withdrawal of music shortly before the swim race induces relaxing effects noted by Koelsch.

If you're in way taking this hilarity seriously (not the actual science, but the fact that Koudinov believes Phelps "cheated" and should give his medals back: "Straightforward ruling results in a straightforward conclusion: Listening to music through earphones before the start is in line with other measures prohibited. Therefore, Phelps’ Beijing swimming golds is faked and should go to others who battle for it fairly.") just consider: Phelps is by FAR not the only swimmer (or Olympic athlete in general) who listens to music before an event. In addition, what's next? Checking into Phelps' diet? I heard yesterday that Phelps eats about 12,000 calories a day. Do we examine all the ingredients of his diet to make sure there are no artificial substances in it? What about breathing deeply before a race? Wouldn't this type of breathing be "artificial," since it is far from "normal" breathing?

Gotta get those proverbial 15 minutes, eh?

(h/t: Newsbusters.)

Posted by Hube at August 14, 2008 10:22 AM | TrackBack

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