Gaming the System: Doping in Sports

The incredible feats that athletes accomplish fascinate us, but what are the repercussions to the human body and to society when they are achieved through doping?

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


August 21, 2012 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)


$10 advance purchase, $15 at door, free for students under 25 w/ ID

After the Olympic Games and just prior to the America’s Cup World Series in San Francisco, swissnex San Francisco will kick off its series Sports & Tech with the event Gaming the System: Doping in Sports, focusing on the controversial and omnipresent use of performance enhancers in sports. Max Gassman tells us about his research on the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which elevates red cell blood production and increases arterial oxygen, ultimately leading to improved exercise performance. Gassman will explain how EPO, normally used to treat patients who suffer from anemia, is also an effective blood-doping agent used by some athletes. He presents his data on mice and the adaptive mechanisms of humans who live at elevations above 3000 meters, where the reduced availability of oxygen induces the production of EPO.

Carsten Lundby of the University of Zurich presents his research on blood doping in the sporting world. This common practice has been around for at least half a century, and Lundby discusses its effects and attempts by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to detect and limit blood doping, as well as whether they have been successful.

Finally, John Gleaves from California State University, Fullerton, addresses how the cultural fascination with performance-enhancing technologies, manifesting itself as both fear and enthusiasm, reveals larger social concerns about what it means to be human and how to handle advances in sciences that affect sporting performance. Because sports mirror our society, our interest in doping tells us more about ourselves than we realize.

Kate Scott, sports anchor at KNBR 680 AM in San Francisco, joins us as the moderator for the panel discussion.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  presentations
8:00 pm  panel discussion
8:30 pm  reception & networking
10:00 pm  doors close


Max Gassmann

Max Gassmann is the Director of the Institute of Veterinary Physiology and a Professor of Veterinary Physiology at the University of Zürich. His research focuses primarily on the protective effects of erythropoietin (EPO) and the response of the human body to reduced oxygenation. His work has recently been released in Experimental Neurology and the American Journal FASEB.


John Gleaves

John Gleaves is the Co-Director of the International Network of Humanistic Doping Research and an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at the California State University, Fullerton. His research focuses primarily on the ethics of doping and performance enhancement in sport. By combining science, ethics, and sport, his work aims to make sense of the often ambiguous and highly loaded debate over drugs in sports in its broadest social, political, and cultural dimensions.


Carsten Lundby

Carsten Lundby is an Assistant Professor of Integrative Human Physiology at the University of Zurich. His main research interests include exercise and oxygen transport in humans. In his work, injections with erythropoietin or blood transfusion are frequently used to test specific physiological, as well as to address issues surrounding the detection of doping agents. His work is published in the best journals in the field, and he is frequently invited to speak at international scientific and political meetings.


Kate Scott

Kate Scott is the morning sports anchor for KNBR 680 AM in San Francisco, host of the Cal Bears post-game football show, a high school play-by-play announcer for the Comcast Hometown Network, and voice of the Tech Crunch podcast for Stitcher SmartRadio. Scott has previously worked with the San Francisco Giants, San Jose Earthquakes, FC Gold Pride, and


This event is a project of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research, and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as sustainability to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos