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What is technological doping and how could it endanger the health of athletes?

The artificial intelligence It is evolving by leaps and bounds and every day the number of data that can be known is greater, something that is also significantly affecting the world of sport to the point that some experts are beginning to worry about technological doping and how it could affect the health of athletes.

“My main concern is the application of artificial intelligence in sport: the capture of data from athletes and techniques such as cranial stimulation, which are difficult to detect and are not yet classified as doping by organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)Alberto Carrio, promoter of a project that aims to analyze the ethical and legal problems of the use of these technological resources, explains to EFE.

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According to Carrio, professor of philosophy of law at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, ​​techniques such as cranial stimulation “It is not yet known whether they may have harmful effects in the future on the health of the athlete, as happened with the doping of substances”.

Carrio’s project is financed by the BBVA Foundation and with the collaboration of ethics experts from other universities, such as Oxford (United Kingdom).

“But not only do we have to protect the health of athletes, but also their rights”sentence. “Your data is being collected by companies that distribute it to their clubs, which may stop hiring them because they see that their performance will decrease in three years”Add.

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Thus, Carrio asks that, “at least, there is a regulatory framework”. In this sense, the WADA (for its acronym in English) is financing two projects in Germany and Canada to find out how artificial intelligence affects doping and what are the uses that should be prohibited.

“In the same way that there is a list of prohibited substances, there should be a list of prohibited uses of artificial intelligence”proposes the UPF professor.

On the other hand, the concern about possible technological doping has not reached the State Anti-Doping Agency (CELAD) of Spain. “Doping is a word that defines the use of prohibited substances and, in this case, there are no substances”José Luis Terreros, its director, tells EFE. “These are traps that are not within our competence”considers.

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In any case, Terreros adds that it is “a theme” who knows why “it worries police and other actors” with which CELAD has a relationship “due to doping issues”. In your opinion, “It is a matter that the federations must manage and, in any case, it could reach civil or criminal law”.

In the case of soccer, David Fombella, a BIG DATA consultant at Stratebi specializing in sports, tells EFE that today “the maximum information that can be collected in a match” takes place in the Champions League with 172 million data points.

“There is a large amount of data that is provided free of charge to clubs. LaLiga has a system, Mediacoach, which has democratic access, since a club that is playing in the Champions League obtains the same information as those recently promoted to Second Division. But there is a lot of free data that the clubs are not dealing with due to a lack of logistical and human capacities”exposes Fombella.

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These data, in general, come, according to Fombella, from “four or five big suppliers”.

One of the ways to collect this type of information is through the GPS bibs that some footballers wear, both in matches and in training. But Fombella says that “50% or more of the First Division players do not play with that bib”.

That same information can also be obtained with practically the same quality through Mediacoach with the data collected by the cameras. In any case, Fombella points out that this system has less scope than the breastplates, which until “they can do electrocardiograms”.

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The use of these GPS bibs, precisely, is one of the uses of artificial intelligence that worries Carrio: “Are the players aware of what it means for them to wear it? What if they refuse to do it? Who has access to this data? Where is the privacy of the athlete?

Carrio believes that there could come a time when “a machine would be the coach of a team and make decisions based on data.” And, returning to the present, he continues to ask himself questions: “And what happens if a coach refuses to listen to what the data recommends? Could the club make decisions about him because of it?

For his part, Fombella, who is also academic co-director of the sports BIG DATA master’s degree at Sports Data Campus and UCAM, explains that artificial intelligence already has “Ways to measure the emotional state of the player and can even know if he has gone out to the field motivated or see the fatigue with the analysis of the emotions he experiences”.

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In addition, he says that, in the case of Mediacoach, the clubs see both their own information and that of the other clubs. “When analyzing the rival team, it is common to include a report on the physical performance of the rival players”underlines.

And access to the data of the other teams is not only used to prepare a match against that rival. “It is something that is also used a lot among scouts. Some clubs invest in international data providers, which gives them information to be able to analyze players from all over the world”explains Fombella.

But obviously artificial intelligence is not only used in football. “The Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) invested 1 million euros in BIG DATA and Cloud a year ago. And, in cycling, we saw in the last Tour de France how the Jumbo-Visma team, led by the winner Jonas Vingegaard, monitored the sleep and rest times and the diet of its cyclists to the extreme”concludes the specialist.

Source: Elcomercio

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