Agora on Athletes and Science. Technology at the service of sport

15 May 2010
IOC News

A fascinating Agora at The Olympic Museum on Tuesday evening, entitled "Athletes and Science. Technology at the service of sport". It was presented for the first time by Marie-Laure Viola, a journalist with the Sports Department of the Télévision Suisse Romande, accompanied, of course, by Jean-Philippe Rapp. The discussion came just a few days after the opening of the new temporary exhibition Athletes and Science, which will be on show at the Museum until 13 March 2011.

A choice selection

Alongside the presenters was a choice selection of experts: Professor Jan-Anders Månson, from the Laboratory of Composite & Polymer Technology at the Lausanne Polytechnic (EPFL); and two representatives from the University of Lausanne (UNIL), Professor Grégoire Millet from the Faculty of Biology & Medicine and anthropologist Daniela Cerqui from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. The EPFL and UNIL have both played a big role in the preparations for this exhibition. The guests included sociologist Georges Vigarello, Research Director at the Paris École des hautes études en sciences sociales, and a former high-level athlete to share his experiences: Stéphane Diagana, double world and European athletics champion specialising in the 400m hurdles.

Training at altitude is good for performance

During the evening, Raphäel Faiss, a young doctoral student at the UNIL, and a presenter for the Museum’s Scientific Sundays, was in the exhibition area with Yves Corminboeuf, Swiss cyclocross champion in 2005, 2006 and 2007, to try out the hypoxic chamber. This chamber is used to simulate the conditions experienced at altitude in order to encourage the production of red blood cells.

Sport and technology

Sport and technology go well together, but as Professor Månson observed (he was one of the scientists employed by FINA to study polyurethane swimsuits), no equipment can replace the athlete. And, whatever their discipline, all athletes must be able to compete on equal terms. The spirit and tradition of sport and its rules must be respected.

In response to this, Stéphane Diagana declared that athletes must always be a reflection of society, failing which ordinary people will no longer identify with the champions, leading to a loss of interest in sport.

This Agora will be broadcast on TSR2 at 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday 26 May.

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