Let’s Stop Doping
By Neal Harris, VP Worldwide Sales –
In early 2013, Lance Armstrong was widely regarded as the greatest cyclist, and one of the greatest athletes of all time. Then, on the Oprah Winfrey show, he confessed to years of illegal doping and lying to cover his tracks.
Several months ago, an arbitrator upheld a doping suspension for Alex Rodriguez (a.k.a., “A-Rod”) for the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season. A-Rod is one of the highest paid athletes in the world, and again, he had been lying about his doping activities for years.
Recent allegations at the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup include doping, match-fixing and corrupt officiating.
The fame and rewards that are showered upon top athletes provide a powerful incentive to cheat. Many athletes will use any legal and illegal means available to gain an advantage over a competitor. In the case of doping, the “counter measure” techniques that keep athletes from testing positive are significantly more advanced than the technology being used by the anti-doping agencies.
Under this backdrop, a team of scientists at the University of Utah has been researching alternative methods to catch those that lie and cheat. Drs. John Kircher and David Raskin are credited with bringing the polygraph into the computer age, and are world-renown experts in technologies and tools that help determine whether an individual is telling the truth. The U.S. government has funded their research, and they recently released a breakthrough test that yields a highly accurate solution for deception detection.
EyeDetect Can Help Prevent Doping
This new technology is called “EyeDetect,” and Converus is the company tasked with bringing this new lie detection technology to the market. EyeDetect is a computer-based appliance that uses a sensitive infrared scanner to measure changes to the eyes. Drs. Kircher and Raskin have proven that when we lie, the right or “creative” hemisphere of the brain is accessed. Accessing the right lobe creates increased “cognitive load” when the signals traverse the neural bridge of the corpus callosum, and this extra “brain pressure” causes the pupils to dilate ever so slightly. EyeDetect questions are true/false, and exams last 30-40 minutes. The answers are securely uploaded to the cloud and then scored (on a scale of 1-100) with Converus’ proprietary algorithms. In field deployments, most deceptive candidates score in the 1-5 range, while truthful candidates score in the 95-100 range. Field tests show that EyeDetect correctly classifies test subjects as either truthful or deceptive with at least 85% accuracy. Each exam can cost less than $80, and the results are available immediately following the exam.
Imagine a competition where the participants, doctors, officials and trainers are required to undergo an EyeDetect exam shortly before the event. The “dirty” athletes could receive a warning or pre-defined penalty, and after a certain number of penalties, they could be banned from further competition. Fans will have greater confidence in the accomplishments of athletes, and frequent testing would be an extremely powerful deterrent for athletes. As the risk of getting caught rises significantly, the likelihood of athletes ingesting harmful substances will decline proportionately. As officials, trainers and doctors are routinely tested, the likelihood that they would assist an athlete would also decline in proportion to the personal risk they would incur.
I love watching sports, and I hope new technologies like EyeDetect will allow me to confidently applaud the great achievements of my favorite athletes without the fear that they are winning without honor. I want to applaud those that win the “right way,” and I want the fame and rewards to follow those that follow the rules. Let’s start now by increasing the frequency and reliability of athlete testing with EyeDetect.