All Posts by Ross

Ok, here goes. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but time and energy have not allowed it. But I’ve just been involved in some lively Twitter discussions, ultimately productive, so I’m going to try to share some thoughts around this issue of transgender females (male-to-female transitioning people) competing in women’s sport. It’s […]

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High performance management Physiology

Quick fire thoughts this Friday morning…! If you missed it, there is a potentially big anti-doping story from the Nordic Skiing Championships in Austria, where a collaboration between German and Austrian police resulted in a number of raids, nine arrests and some video footage of an Austrian X-country skier sitting with a needle in his […]

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Most interesting Short thought on sport

I’m back! Apologies for going AWOL over the last two weeks, but hopefully you’ll understand the reason – I was in Europe, between London and Lausanne, at the CAS proceedings where Caster Semenya was challenging the IAAF’s hyperandrogenism regulation. It was an insanely stimulating, challenging, fascinating and enjoyable two weeks, and I hope at some […]

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Short thought on sport

Real quick-fire today, with some links and things I found interesting this week: On Wednesday, I wrote a short thought on whether the conventional wisdom around how elite athletes “expire” and fade with age may be outdated. Seems to me that we hear a lot more about older athletes succeeding, and even dominating, than before. […]

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Marketing &amp sponsorship Most interesting Physiology Short thought on sport Uncategorized

Yesterday, I was sent this link. It says that Dwain Chambers, he of THG and a doping ban in 2004 (!), is making a comeback, hoping to qualify for Team GB at the European Indoor Championships. At the age of 40. Well, almost 41. My first thought was “Of course he is”, and then upon […]

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African running doping High performance management marathons Physiology Rugby Running Physiology Short thought on sport Uncategorized US sports

This is an extract from an editorial written by one of the great exercise physiology researchers, Carl Foster, in the most recent International Journal of Sports Performance and Physiology: There’s a lot to that highlighted sentence alone. For one thing, it raises the main reason why I find the marginal gains PR so patronizing and […]

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Short thought on sport

The Six Natons starts on Friday night. Best rugby tournament in the world, hands down. I really cannot wait to watch it. However, I now work in player welfare for rugby, and so I view the sport through one lens called ‘excitement’, and another called ‘welfare’. In my attempt to bring this ‘binocular vision’ to […]

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Short thought on sport

The 2016 Olympic Marathon champion got handed an extra four years on her doping ban last week. The story broke on Friday, and you can read the summary from Sean Ingle here. My brief recap – Sumgong wins the Olympic gold in Rio in 2016, then fails an EPO test in April 2017, in the […]

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Short thought on sport

Ok so let’s recap the week, and some stuff I missed. It was a busy one, so I didn’t write much, but what I did do was: I did a talk for Arsenal Football club’s HP team, and spoke about the role of sports science in the elite environment. I think sports science has under-delivered, […]

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Most interesting Short thought on sport

I’ve spent the last three days in Paris, for two rugby related meetings. The first was with the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the LNR, which is the body that runs the professional competition in France (Top 14). That meeting was to discuss injury data, player welfare and future collaboration between the Union, the professional […]

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Short thought on sport

Last Friday I spent the day at Arsenal FC’s training facility in the north of London. I gave a presentation to their Sports Science/HP department (research, S&C, medical, youth coaches, nutrition, physiotherapy and data analysts) In today’s Short Thought on Sport, I wanted to share that presentation with you. Because I know it’s difficult to […]

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Short thought on sport

From planes to trains – today’s Short Thought on Sport in on the UCI’s tramadol ban and painkillers in sport! It comes to you a train somewhere between London St Pancras and St Albans City station, where I’m headed to spend the weekend with Arsenal Football club ahead of their Premiership match against Chelsea.  I […]

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Short thought on sport

I missed my short thought yesterday – just a crazy busy day of meetings and last minute prep before a work trip to the UK and Paris starting today, so apologies for that. Because I’m killing some time on the plane, my short thought is coming to you from 10353m above sea level, about 480km […]

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Short thought on sport

I wonder when we reached the point where the person who views Team Sky’s unprecedented success through deeply skeptical eyes is the one who is closer to looking at the more plausible explanation? The point where a person attempting to rationalize the never-ending drip feed of deceit and lies is the one who has to […]

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Short thought on sport

So here’s a funny little anecdote to kick off today’s Short Thought on Sport. Last year in November, I was in London for the World Rugby Annual Medical and Scientific Conference. We stay at a place called The Lensbury in Teddington, and they have, as far as “hotel” gyms go, a pretty reasonable one. Couple […]

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Short thought on sport

For the weekend, an easier, less weighty topic of discussion… Here’s a question, one that might stimulate debate over a beer or a glass of wine this weekend (and really, I recommend having a few before entering a discussion, because it’s that sort of debate): Who is the fittest ‘athlete’ in the world? Your task: […]

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Short thought on sport

Today’s short thought is not that short. It was inspired by a handful of emails and WhatsApp conversations I had with various colleagues and friends yesterday. I basically took what I had said in those and turned it into an article on Concussion risk decreasing in England’s professional rugby competition, and what that might mean. […]

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Short thought on sport

Twitter is a vacuum of intellectual depth. Not for the reasons you probably think of first. Yeah, there are many screaming clueless voices there. That’s OK. It’s the reason to be there, not the reason to avoid it. I mean something different. Maybe vacuum is the wrong word. Maybe it’s more like the couch or […]

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Short thought on sport

Rugby, like many contact sports, faces a concussion issue. Over the last three years, I have been involved in research and subsequent law change and education to attempt to reduce concussion risk in the sport. In this article, I explain, step by step, what that process has involved and why certain decisions were made.

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High performance management Rugby Sports management Sports Science

Along with two prominent scientists, we have recently called for the research study on testosterone's effects in women athletes to be retracted. This research is part of the IAAF's policy on hyperandrogenism in athletics, but we have analyzed aspects of the study, and discovered significant and numerous errors. This article describes those errors, and calls for scientific integrity and transparency from both the IAAF and the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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African running Caster Semenya High performance management Physiology Sports management Sports Science

The French newspaper Le Monde asked me to write an Op-Ed on the 2018 Tour de France, specifically addressing the question "Can we trust Chris Froome and Team Sky". This is the original, unedited piece that was submitted. It details the history of the Tour, which makes up the canvas onto which the words "Trust me" are written, and explains why that appeal must be accompanied by extraordinary actions to break a cycle that is now decades long. Froome and Sky fall well short of it.

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doping High performance management Tour de France Analysis

Boston 2018 was one for the archives. A brutally cold, wet and windy day made for incredible, unpredictable elite races, and a whole lot of DNFs! There's a theory that women did better in this regard than men, and this post explores cold physiology, and what factors MIGHT explain why women MIGHT be able to handle the extreme cold better than men

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Boston Marathon fluid heat &amp thermoregulation Physiology

Welcome to my live coverage of the 2018 Boston Marathon, where I'll post splits, projections and thoughts as both races develop.

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Boston Marathon marathons Running

Sudden cardiac death is a spectre that looms over sport. When apparently healthy and fit athletes die during sport, it triggers questions and grief. The latest such case is that of Michael Goolaerts, a Belgian pro-cyclist who died during the 2018 Paris-Roubaix. This video provides an overview of the prevalence, possible causes, and challenges facing prevention.

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cycling Four minute mull

The latest four minute mull explores pacing strategies, physiology and fatigue. In so doing, I offer a theory for the limits to human performance existing at the point where the "reserve" that physiology maintains is no more, the endspurt disappears, and humans are at the limits of what is physiologically possible.

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Fatigue/Central Governor Four minute mull Physiology Running track-and-field

UKAD sent a scathing letter to British Cycling, outlining a series of improper and sub standard processes and governance issues in the aftermath of their Jiffy Bag Investigation. The letter shatters the illusion of Marginal gains by the most professional, well run team in cycling, while the inaction by UKAD despite all the problems reveals the impotence of anti-doping bodies.

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doping Doping in Cycling Four minute mull High performance management

Should TUEs be banned? The Therapeutic Use Exemption exists to solve a tricky challenge for elite athletes, allowing them to compete despite chronic or acute medical problems. But it's become clear that the system is often abused, leading to a loss of trust in the system. In this four minute mull, I look at that debate, offering perspectives from both sides, and here, share some thoughts around four things I think should change to restore the TUE integrity.

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Four minute mull

The latest four minute mull is here, and it's back to the subject of concussion. It was topical, because another controversy in the NFL with Cam Newton pushed the issue of concussion management into the news. Rugby has a history with concussion and this post examines that, and explains how policy changes that absorbed education and knowledge of concussion helped drive positive changes, even though the incidence of concussion increased as a result.

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Four minute mull

In this episode of #thefourminutemull, I address the player welfare issue facing rugby. Last year, some controversy erupted when a player was cited for a dangerous tackle, leading some to say the sport was going soft. This "soft vs tough" argument is a cultural challenge rugby needs to address, and I talk here about seeking that compromise for the sake of the players and the sport.

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Four minute mull

This is episode 1 of the Four Minute Mull, my hopefully weekly attempt at adding insight and thoughts to the world of sport. In this prologue episode, I look ahead to 2018, where the two big global sporting events will put sport's lack of integrity squarely in the spotlight, and to some of the other stories we're likely to cover this year, ranging from Froome's salbutamol case to intersex athletes in athletics.

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Four minute mull

So by now you’ve read the news – if you haven’t, or even if you have, read it here, because Daniel Benson has done a really good job of explaining the story and some of its implications, and he has added good insights into what may come next. Chris Froome, tested on 7 September, during […]

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Cycling Physiology Doping in Cycling

This is part 3 of the 3-part series on head injuries in rugby. It explores the two most interesting and relevant findings of the research, looking at how the height of the tackle and the body position of the players influences head injury risk. These two items formed the strongest evidence that was used to change the high tackle laws in the sport. We also discuss the next steps and future application of the research.

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Physiology Rugby Sports management

This is the second installment in a series of articles translating recent research I published on the risk of head injuries during rugby. This part looks at the characteristics of the tackle that increase or decrease the risk.

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High performance management Rugby Sports Science

World Rugby recently changed and clarified laws around the high tackle in an attempt to reduce the number of concussions in the sport. That change was based on an in-depth study of the tackle, done to identify the mechanisms for head injury. This post, the first of a series of three articles on the subject, discusses the process, the principle of the research, and the high level findings.

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High performance management Rugby Sports management

Athletics South Africa, the governing federation for Track and Field in South Africa, recently announced the SA squad for the upcoming World Athletics championships in London. An ambiguous mix of selection criteria and omissions has created controversy. I write an open letter to ASA calling for clarity, and a reversal of certain non-selections for the squad.

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Event analysis High performance management Sports management World Championships

In 2015, the Court of Arbitration set aside an IAAF policy that required female athletes to have a Testosterone level below a cut-off threshold. Now, 2 years later, with the IAAF appeal imminent, new evidence has emerged, with possible implications for athletes like Caster Semenya. But will the IAAF's new evidence be enough. Here's a look at some issues.

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Caster Semenya High performance management Running track-and-field World Championships

Dramatic footage in the aftermath of a Tom Skujns crash in the Tour of California triggered some discussion around cycling's concussion protocols. Some thoughts on the tricky, if not impossible proposition of introducing a "recognize and remove" policy to cycling

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cycling Cycling Physiology High performance management

Where do we go next? Now that Eliud Kipchoge has taken us to the brink of a sub-2 hour marathon, have the boundaries of human endurance been recalibrated? Can we expect a 1:59 soon? Or did the Nike staged event simply move some of the boundaries aside? This piece looks at potential benefits, and asks whether we should expect to see a speeding up, or a slowing down, in the foreseeable future?

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African running Event analysis Fatigue/Central Governor High performance management marathons Marketing &amp sponsorship Physiology running shoes

Eliud Kipchoge has run a marathon in 2:00:25, coming within sight of breaking the 2-hour barrier. How did he do it, and what might we expect in future? This post analyzes the splits, the tactics and the prospects for the 1:59:59 in the future.

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African running Event analysis Fatigue/Central Governor High performance management marathons Marketing &amp sponsorship Physiology running shoes

A proposal to recalibrate the track and field world records by removing all records set prior to 2005 has caused considerable controversy. I offer some views on the proposal, and explain why the step is probably necessary, but should not be 'abused' as a sign of a new generation.

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African running doping High performance management Marketing &amp sponsorship Running track-and-field

The Nike-Breaking 2 attempt will happen in Monza this weekend. I don't think a sub-2 is possible, but what will be fascinating is to see a) how they go about pacing the attempt, and what happens if it starts to fall away; and b) what the collective advantage is of all the tactics employed. I predict 2:01:55 at best, a DNF is also a real possibility. More thoughts here.

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African running Event analysis High performance management Marketing &amp sponsorship Physiology running shoes

Rugby introduced new high tackle laws with stricter sanctions for high tackles, aimed at lowering the height to reduce head injury risk. Recent criticism has suggested that referees are now softening their stance, and failing to apply the new laws, and that nothing has changed and we are back where we started. The data suggest otherwise, as this post explains

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High performance management Rugby Sports management

The history of antidoping can be divided into two overlapping phases. There was once a huge lack of a "way" - inadequate tools to catch doping, leaving antidoping two steps behind the cheats. Advances in science have narrowed this, creating a better "way". This has exposed a bigger problem - a lack of "will". This article describes this, and offers a conceptual solution.

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doping Doping in Cycling High performance management Marketing &amp sponsorship

An explosive new investigative report has revealed that numerous athletes have tested positive when their samples from Beijing 2008 were retested. They include Jamaican male sprinters, so dominant in those Games. The IOC and WADA however did not act, suggesting the cases are all contamination, not worthy of pursuing. How viable is this, and what does it mean for already bottomed-out anti-doping credibility?

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Beijing 2008 doping High performance management track-and-field Uncategorized

Bradley Wiggins called marginal gains "a load of rubbish" recently, and while his thoughts were poorly crafted and tainted by the context, it triggered an impassioned defence of the philosophy by Matthew Syed. I've always thought the concept trivialized sports science, and was arrogantly dismissive of the realities that there's really nothing unique about it. As a source of competitive advantage in elite sport, it cannot stand. More on that in this piece.

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High performance management Marketing &amp sponsorship Sports management Training theories Uncategorized

Around 100 years ago, the world's leading scientists got together to discuss "eugenics", the idea that we could selectively breed "good stock" for the benefit of the human race. This happened openly, with the support of the USA's judicial system, and looks macabre and horrific in hindsight. It made me wonder about over-confidence, and knowledge, and how experts shouldn't ever profess absolute certainty, on anything.

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High performance management Physiology Sports Science Uncategorized

Nike recently unveiled the Vaporfly Elite, the shoe it has been working on to help it break the 2-hour marathon barrier. The shoe incorporates a "spring plate", and is claimed to have significant performance implications. I think the shoe, and the incorporation of spring-like devices in all shoes, should be banned for future credibility of performance. Here's why

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High performance management Marketing &amp sponsorship Physiology running shoes Sports Science Uncategorized

Attending the 2017 IOC Sports Injury and Illness Conference, it struck me that injury researchers are far more collaborative than those in performance. I think shared purpose is the reason. Here's a brief thought on that.

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High performance management Sports Science Uncategorized

Kenenisa Bekele kicks off the 2017 Marathon season in Dubai, with what is a potential world record. It's the year of the "Breaking-2" after Nike's announcement last December. This article is an expanded version of one I wrote for an SA Newspaper on Jan 15th, 2017

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African running doping High performance management marathons Marketing &amp sponsorship Physiology Running Physiology Uncategorized

Nike's announcement that they're backing three top marathoners to break the 2 hour marathon barrier in Spring 2017, is the latest installment in the sub-2 hype. Relevance and legitimacy aside, what would it take, product and course wise, to achieve? I look at shoes and downhill running to illustrate the concept of physiological barriers and how they might be shifted.

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African running High performance management marathons Marketing &amp sponsorship Physiology Running Physiology Uncategorized