Harvey Shapiro, M.D.
Harvey has been an award winning TV commentator, researcher, author, mayor of Del Mar, and is an avid cyclist. He served as a Doping Control Officer in Utah's 2002 Winter Olympics and lives in Park City and San Diego.
“Morphed” is about much more than cheating in sports.
After my experience as a doping control officer in the 2002 Olympics I thought this novel would tell the straightforward story of an athlete trying to get away with doping to win an Olympic gold medal. Today I understand it is much more about every person who desires to win or perform at higher levels as long as the cost is within their means and doesn’t pose significant health risks.
As a physician working in an acute care environment my immediate goal was to preserve life. As I’ve grown more experienced, I’ve come to realize that life extension comes with an implicit target of adding quality and function to patients’ lives. Many protocols we employ to obtain that secondary goal are not very far removed from athletes hooked on doping. What middle-aged man would refuse Viagra if he could extend his sexual performance and please his partner? Who would refuse hip or knee replacement surgery if it meant they could walk? Many of us rely on cosmetic surgery to make us feel better or attract the best mate. We purchase the lightest bike or tennis racket in order to beat our opponents or go to the best schools to win in business. All of the preceding can be lumped into the category of human performance enhancement. To a varying degree what we do to function better may little differ from what athletes feel compelled to do when they enter playing field. The only difference is that many competitive sports have outlawed drug-based human performance enhancement, whereas medical enhancements and the best sports equipment money can buy remain legal.
Morphed mirrors the basic human desire to perform at the highest possible level in many different quests. Our pursuit of goal creates a permissive environment that almost begs our athletes to use human performance enhancement (HPE) methods in order to win and keep us entertained on the edge of our seats. In other words, athletes feel the need to dope, because some degree many of us, we rely on HPE technology.
Within this context Morphed describes the introduction of a new performance enhancement—DNA altering doping—which, with its fountain of youth properties, is sure to find its way back into the general population, just as so many of our medical advances have wended their way onto the athletic field.