Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Pseudoscience in Sport: If It’s Legal It Probably Doesn’t Work

By Marko Petrovic

Elite athletes are prime targets for emerging sham products that promise make-believe effects.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The realm of the professional sportsperson is awash with diverse ways to get ahead, legal or not. The immense pressure these people feel can make them take a wrong turn down the road to victory.

In March, two Collingwood players tested positive to clenbuterol, a drug on WADA and ASADA’s prohibited list. Clenbuterol promotes muscle growth and reduces body fat, which is clearly a prime example breaking the rules to get ahead.

But why are some products banned and others aren’t? Prohibited products are distinguished from the legal ones simply because they actually work. The legal products tend to be bogus.

The visibility of elite sports people makes many everyday people assume that the bogus products they use are legitimate. Charlatans rely on this effect to encourage and consolidate their grip on the uninformed consumer.

When you want to get the edge it seems that illegal, dangerous or plainly false products are abundantly available for use. Here are some common sham products widely used and promoted in Australian sport.

Balance Bands
Balance bands wormed their way into Australian sport near the end of the last decade. If you believe the hype, they’re basically magic. The bands contain holograms that are supposedly embedded with frequencies that react positively with your body’s natural energy fields to improve...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.