David Epstein is the author of the recent released “The Sports Gene,” the best book on the market dealing with exercise genetics and the question of why some races seem to be more successful at certain sports than others. It delves into why, for instance, people with West African heritage dominate at the world’s highest sprinting events.
On the surface, yes, this sounds like potentially inflammatory stuff. But, if you’re given to that sort of reaction, then you’re probably the type of person willing to look past surface appearances anyway.
Please look – literally – past the cover of “The Sports Gene.” You’ll be rewarded. I promise: your mind will be opened.
I discussed the book on Sporting Life Arkansas, and had the chance to interview Epstein by phone. He was gracious enough to give me some updates on former Razorback Tyson Gay, who withdrew from last week’s world championships after testing positive for a banned substance. As Epstein wrote on July 16 for si.com, “Gay has been treated by Atlanta chiropractor and anti-aging specialist Clayton Gibson. In the sports world, the term “anti-aging” has often come to signify therapy that uses hormones — usually testosterone and HGH — and testosterone precursors, like DHEA. DHEA can be obtained over the counter and is permitted in certain sports, including baseball, but not those contested in the Olympics.”
Gibson told Epstein he’d been referred to Gay by former U.S. sprinter Jon Drummond, who coached Gay on the 4X100 Olympic relay team in London 2012. Drummond has also trained various NFL players and it was through these contacts that Drummond first heard about Dr. Gibson, Epstein told me. A few Baltimore Ravens had used Gibson for anti-aging treatments – including former Raven Ed Reed, who enjoyed acupuncture, chiropractic work and foot detoxes with Gibson.
One Raven was friends with a track athlete coached by Drummond. Word of Gibson’s work spread and eventually reached Gay this way, Epstein said.
Here’s more from our Aug. 11 conversation:
Q: When did Gay start using Gibson?
A: He started using the doctor prior to the Olympic trials last year.
Q: What’s the latest you have heard regarding Gay and how he’s handling the suspension he will soon receive?
A: He’s cooperating, from what I’m told. He’s going to accept the suspension and is cooperating.
Q: A suspension in this situation is normally two years. How long do you think Gay’s is going to be?
A: Anti doping now works like criminal law enforcement. I think it’s gonna be a year minimum. But it could be less than that if he gives amazing information that leads to sanctions for other athletes….
I think his only recourse for getting his suspension reduced is information that will lead to sanctions against other doctors, trainer or athletes.”
Q: How fast do you think Gay will be when he returns to competition?
A: I think it will be very difficult to be as fast as he was this year. So we expect him to be past his prime. But you look at Justin Gatlin – he came back from a suspension and ran better than anybody expected.