HOW THINGS WORK
Testing for dope
Last fortnight, Indian sports witnessed its worst doping scandal with eight top athletes failing drug tests. Use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports has increased because of the large economic and other rewards for sporting achievements. Anti-doping agencies conduct regular drug tests to keep tabs on sportspersons.
How is the drug test conducted? Instead of using blood samples, which require trained medical staff, anti-doping test is done on urine samples. To prevent tampering with a sample, elaborate security procedures are followed from the time it is taken from an athlete till it reaches the laboratory.
What do the tests look for? The presence of banned substances like steroid precursors that work like steroids or complex anabolic androgenic steroids like tetrahydrogestrinone, a synthetic variation of testosterone that enhances muscle-building (anabolic) and 'masculinising' (androgenic) characteristics.
How do these drugs enhance performance? They enhance athletic performance when combined with strenuous physical training by making muscles bigger, stronger and faster, and help in speedy recovery after rigorous exercises.
Tunnel of patience
It was in 1983 that an all-weather, 8.8-km-long tunnel was proposed to be built at the Rohtang Pass leading to the Kashmir Valley. But it remained just an idea until June 2000 when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave it the go-ahead. The tunnel was to be built by the Border Roads Organisation at a cost of Rs 500 crore, and completed by 2007. As it happened, Vajpayee inaugurated the project only in 2002, and the actual drilling only started in June 2010. As a result, both the Manali-Leh and Amritsar-Srinagar-Leh highways that use the Pass to enter the Valley still remain closed for six months a year due to heavy snowfall. Considering it took 27 years to get this far, the new deadline of 2015 and Rs 1,500-crore outlay for the project seems unrealistic. Will the government surprise the sceptics?
'Vada pav', the hot and spicy snack beloved of Maharashtrians, is generating heat of a different kind in the state. The Shiv Sena, which calls itself the voice of the Maharashtrian people, recently set up stalls to sell 'vada pav' in Mumbai, apparently believing that the way to people's hearts was through their stomachs. But that was too much to digest for a rival group, Swabhiman Sanghatan, which opened its own 'vada pav' stalls alongside, naming them after Chhatrapati Shivaji to boot. A third outfit has now joined the fray and threatened to launch a stir if Shivaji's name is used to sell 'vada pav'.
Single malts may have acquired snob value these days, but Scotch was originally blended Scotch. 'Blended' Scotch means it has been made from a combination of malt and grain whiskies, sometimes derived from more than 50 different distilleries. Usually malt and grain whiskies are blended in a 60:40 ratio. It is the malt whiskies that lend quality, smoothness of taste and character to the blend, and so their ratio is almost always higher in the mixture. Blended whiskies are ordinarily matured for fi ve years, though Scotch connoisseurs prefer those that have been matured for over a decade.
Published on: Aug 04, 2011, 12:00 AM IST
Posted by: Navneeta N, Aug 04, 2011, 12:00 AM IST