May 4, 2010
Los Angeles Times
By Shari Roan
Injections of human growth hormone can improve sprint capacity enough to turn the last-place finisher in the Olympic 100-meter dash into a gold-medal winner, according to a study released Monday.
Sprint capacity improved for both men and women, the study said. Combining growth hormone with testosterone injections in men doubled the improvement in sprinting. “This is helpful in showing those skeptics out there who say it doesn’t help performance that they’re wrong,” said David Howman, director general of the Montreal-based World Anti-Doping Agency, which funded the study.
Howman and other sports medicine experts said the finding should serve as a warning to those U.S. professional sports organizations that have resisted testing for growth hormone — which is banned by athletic organizations — because they say the substance is too difficult to detect.
Although the hormone can’t be detected in urine, it can be found in a blood sample if the test is performed within a few days of use, Howman said. Professional sports leagues should consider unannounced, out-of-competition testing, he said.
“They should wake up and see they should be putting a lot more effort into detection of this substance,” he said.
The eight-week study, one of the most rigorous examinations of growth hormone and athletic performance to date, involved 96 healthy, recreationally trained athletes with an average age of 27. The 63 male participants were assigned to receive one of four regimens: two milligrams per day of growth hormone; 250 milligrams per week of testosterone; both growth hormone and testosterone; or placebo injections. The 33 female participants received either growth hormone or placebo injections.
The athletes underwent physical examinations, laboratory tests and performance evaluations. Neither the researchers nor athletes knew who was receiving the hormone and who was receiving the placebo.
After eight weeks, researchers found that growth hormone improved sprint capacity in men and women by an average of 3.9% over the placebo group — which would trim 0.4 of a second from a 10-second time in the 100-meter dash, said study lead author Dr. Kenneth Ho at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia. In the 2008 Olympics, the top three male finishers had times of 9.69, 9.89 and 9.91 seconds.
That same 3.9% improvement could cut 1.2 seconds from a 30-second time in a 50-meter swim, Ho said.
February 18th, 2010
By Declan McCallugh
When Christian Taylor stopped by the Sprint store in Daly City, Calif., last November, he was planning to buy around 30 BlackBerry handhelds.
But a Sprint employee on the lookout for fraud grew suspicious about the address and other details relating to Taylor’s company, “Hype Univercity,” and called the police. Taylor was arrested on charges of felony identity fraud , his car was impounded, and his iPhone was confiscated and searched by police without a warrant.
A San Mateo County judge is scheduled to hear testimony on Thursday morning in this case, which could set new ground rules for when police can conduct warrantless searches of iPhones, laptops, and similarly capacious electronic gadgets.
This is an important legal question that remains unresolved: as our gadgets store more and more information about us, including our appointments, correspondence, and personal photos and videos, what rules should police investigators be required to follow? The Obama administration and many local prosecutors’ answer is that warrantless searches are perfectly constitutional during arrests.
“There are very, very few cases involving smartphones,” Chris Feasel, deputy district attorney for San Mateo County, said in an interview on Wednesday. “The law has not necessarily caught up to the technology.”
Feasel said the county’s position is that a search of a handheld device that takes place soon after an arrest is lawful. “It’s an interesting issue that may decide the future of how courts handle these kinds of cases, especially smartphones and iPhones,” he said.
Attorneys for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco civil liberties group that’s representing Taylor, have asked the court to suppress any evidence obtained from the search of his iPhone. They say the search was “unconstitutional” because it was done without a warrant–and they say it also may have violated a 1986 federal law designed to protect the privacy of e-mail messages.
Privacy advocates say that long-standing legal rules allowing police to search suspects during an arrest–including looking through their wallets and pockets–should not apply to smartphones because the amount of material they store is so much greater and the risks of intrusive searches are so much higher. A 32GB iPhone 3GS, for instance, can hold approximately 220,000 copies of the unabridged text of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
“Neither the search of (Taylor’s) vehicle nor the search of his iPhone was justified by any exception to the warrant requirement,” the EFF and its co-counsel, San Francisco attorney Randall Garteiser wrote in a brief filed earlier this month.
Sex photos drew federal lawsuit
Concerns about privacy are not merely hypothetical. In March 2008, Nathan Newhard was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Culpeper, Va., and his cell phone was seized. In the pictures folder of the cell phone were multiple pictures of Newhard and his then-girlfriend, Jessie Casella, nude in sexually compromising positions.
Newhard and Casella–at that point no longer a couple–filed separate civil rights lawsuits against Sgt. Matt Borders, who they said alerted the rest of the police department on the radio “that the private pictures were available for their viewing and enjoyment.” Newhard claimed that, as a result of the incident, he was nonrecommended for continued employment with the Culpeper school system, where he had worked before the arrest.
A federal judge in Virginia last year agreed that the police conduct was “irresponsible, unprofessional, and reprehensible” but said that Culpeper police officers could not be held legally responsible because they did not violate any clearly established constitutional rights. In addition, the court pointed out, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that “officers may retrieve text messages and other information from cell phones and pagers seized incident to an arrest” to preserve evidence.
The problem for EFF and its co-counsel in the San Mateo County case is that, while the U.S. Supreme Court has not taken up the issue, a number of other courts have reached similar conclusions. In 2007, the Fifth Circuit concluded that police were permitted to conduct a warrantless search for call records and text messages during an arrest. So did the Seventh Circuit in a 1996 case dealing with information from numeric pagers (“It is imperative that law enforcement officers have the authority to immediately ‘search’ or retrieve, incident to a valid arrest, information from a pager in order to prevent its destruction as evidence.”)