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Dr Ross Tucker presents The Icarus problem: Elite sport and the pursuit of...

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Elan Theatre- O'Brien Science Centre

UCD Dublin

Belfield

D4 Dublin

Ireland

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The Icarus problem: Elite sport and the pursuit of human performance limits

Ben Johnson. Marco Pantani. Jan Ullrich. Marion Jones. Tim Montgomery. Lance Armstrong. Russia. Jamaica. Kenya. Nike. Alberto Salazar. WADA. The IOC. Athletes, coaches, countries, entire sports organizations. None are immune to the cynicism that has been well-earned by sports for the last thirty years as a result of continual failures in anti-doping.

In our pursuit to go faster, higher and stronger, we have flown far too close to the sun, like Icarus, and the result is that elite sport has never suffered from such a profound lack of credibility. The effects of this unrelenting desire for performance and all its rewards is even more pervasive than simply doping and cheating. It has created in sport a “race to the bottom” that affects how children play sport, and has driven "technological doping” that is only now emerging as a real threat to sport’s credibility.

In this presentation, Ross will explore some of these topics, drawing on recent controversies including:

  • The proposed resetting of the track and field world records as a model to understand the evolution of doping and anti-doping over the generations

  • The Nike Oregon Project and Russian doping scandals as examples of how doping has evolved in response to anti-doping

  • The sub-2 hour marathon attempt

  • Talent identification and development and what it means for the “health” of sport

  • Recent high profile doping cases, including that of a GAA player for a contaminated supplement

The talk will be provocative and engaging, with plenty of time for questions and lively discussion afterwards.


Speaker

Dr Ross Tucker is an exercise physiologist based in Cape Town, South Africa. He completed a PhD on human performance, the brain and fatigue. He also holds a post-graduate qualification in marketing and management. Following this, he worked for three years in the sports sponsorship and business industry, before returning to the academic world to continue research on topics including talent identification and development, elite Kenyan runners, running shoe biomechanics and the limits of human performance.

In 2015, he took up a position with World Rugby, and is currently Head Scientist, responsible for conducting and managing research that can be used to inform strategic decisions and law changes in the sport, with respects to both player welfare and high performance.

He is a nationally rated scientist, with over 60 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals. He has delivered keynote and invited lectures at numerous international conferences, including the IOC Medical Conference, the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, the European Congress of Sport Science annual congress and the South African Sports Medicine conference.

He has consulted widely with high performance sports organizations on player development strategies, and was previously high performance scientist for the Springbok 7s rugby team from 2008 to 2012 and South Africa kayaking from 2011 to 2012.

He also runs The Science of Sport website, and is known for forthright opinions on sporting “current affair” topics, ranging from doping to Oscar Pistorius and Caster Semenya. He has been a frequent interviewee on “Off The Ball” on these topics. He was named one of South Africa’s most influential young South Africans by a prominent national South African newspaper.

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Elan Theatre- O'Brien Science Centre

UCD Dublin

Belfield

D4 Dublin

Ireland

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