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T.V. Mahalingam, Kushan Mitra, Manu Kaushik     October 9, 2010

How things work
All about doping

With Indian swimmers and weightlifters racking up more positives on the drug test results even before the medal count has started at the Commonwealth Games, the question that everybody is asking is: How does doping work?

Hope a dope: Athletes take performance enhancing drugs for a variety of reasons. From building muscle strength, to increasing oxygen flow to the exercising tissues to stimulating the body or reducing weight or even just relaxing. The kind of drug an athlete takes depends on what he wants to achieve.

To each his own: For example, in 2003 cricketer Shane Warne tested positive for diuretics called hydrochlorthiazide and amiloride, which promote the excretion of fluids through the body, causing weight loss. On the other hand, last fortnight, Indian weightlifters and swimmers tested positive for methylhexaneamine, which is used as a nasal decongestant but causes increased heart rate and blood pressure. These, in turn, lead to brief bursts of energy and better performance.

Hide and seek: Is it possible to mask drug use? Yes, to some extent. For example, diuretics can shield the presence of drugs in urine samples by diluting them

Just wondering
Awol MCD

Whatever happened to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi's drive to seal illegal shops in the Capital's non-approved commercial zones? The demolition and sealing drive was started in February 2006 following a Delhi High Court directive, and continued till early 2007. But it was subsequently put into cold storage by the Delhi government after strong protests by locals. Worried about the political fallout, the UPA government even tried to bail out the Delhi government by passing an ordinance in December 2009, which ruled that the sealing drive won't resume before December 31, 2010. It was subsequently overruled by the Delhi High Court. But the MCD has not given any indications of stirring into action yet.

For Russia with Love

Want to beat the recession? Have a puff and a shot of vodka and pop goes the recession. At least, that's Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin's silver bullet to beat the recession. "Those who drink and smoke are doing more to help the state," were the man's exact words last fortnight, even as the country plans to raise excise duties on alcohol and cigarettes, which incidentally were the lowest in Europe. Kudrin's train of thought is something like this: more smokers, more drinkers, more excise, more money for Mother Russia, more development programmes. It sounds perfectly logical, except for one little detail. Alcoholrelated illnesses kill an estimated 500,000 Russians a year. And why not? Russians consume an average of 18 litres of alcohol, mostly vodka, a year and 65 per cent of the population lights up. Wonder where Kudrin got his inspiration from when he shot off his mouth? A bottle of vodka, perhaps?

Snoot corner

The history of the 'Aviator' sunglasses is a bit obscure. Popular legend has it that flyers wore it during World War II. That is not true, but the glasses were similar to the glasses that Ray-Ban was providing US pilots of the day. The oblique teardrop-shaped glasses were made famous by US General Douglas MacArthur during the war when he landed in the Philippines wearing them. Aviators had a renewed surge in popularity in the '80s, thanks to the blockbuster Hollywood movie Top Gun. Since then, it has been worn by almost every A-list celebrity in Hollywood and even in India. And the design itself, which is popular because its shape gives near-complete sunlight protection, is now made by hundreds of manufacturers and Ray-Ban still sells millions. You can find a basic Aviator for around Rs 5,000.

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