March 24, 2015

When injected, L-carnitine can improve performance by as much as 11 percent.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Alberto Salazar's Program Under Scrutiny

Runners reportedly injected L-carnitine

Legendary Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar has admitted to injecting runners with L-carnitine, a potentially performance-enhancing supplement, the Sunday Times reports. The revelation has sparked controversy in the running community, though the injections were likely legal.

Critics have focused on Salazar's apparently contradictory stance on supplements. In 2013, to accusations that Mo Farah, an Olympic, world, and European champion in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters was doping, Salazar told the Telegraph that “none of our athletes are on any sports-specific supplement other than beta-alanine, which is an amino acid. Other than that, it’s iron, vitamin D, and that’s it. You don’t really need anything else.”

The Nike Oregon Project is an elite squad of distance runners that includes Farah and Galen Rupp, Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000 meters. The Sunday Times claims that both of those runners received injections of L-carnitine as far back as 2011, as did celebrated University of Houston coach Steve Magness.

L-carnitine helps the body turn fat into energy. It’s normally made in the liver and kidneys and stored in the muscles, heart, and brain. Although there’s dueling evidence as to whether the substance actually boosts performance, according to LetsRun.com, Magness’ performance improved by 8 to 9 percent when he took L-carnitine intravenously.

Taking the supplement orally is legal under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules. It’s also fair game to inject legal substances as long as athletes take in less than 1.6 ounces in a six-hour period.

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The number of national park visitors younger than 15 has dropped by half in the past 10 years.     Photo: Jeff Pang/Flickr

National Parks Drawing Fewer Young Visitors

Despite a record 292.8 million guests in 2014

A recent CNN report by “Inside Man” Morgan Spurlock found that although America’s national parks drew a record 292.8 million visitors in 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) is having trouble attracting young people. Spurlock reports that the number of visitors under age 15 has dropped by half in the past 10 years. Visitors to Denali average 57 years old, and Yellowstone’s average guest is around 54.

Bob Roney, a retired Yosemite ranger, told CNN that the problem is younger generations are too plugged in for the outdoors. “People want modern conveniences,” he said. “Young people are more city oriented and tend not to be wildlands oriented.”

Not only that, but the average age of the park employees is becoming higher. According to CNN, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) says that half of the employees in park leadership are scheduled to retire by 2016. That would leave parks, which now have one guide for every 100,000 visitors, even further understaffed. Furthermore, 75 percent of NPS employees are 40 or older, and only 7 percent are 29 or younger.

NPCA program director Jodie Riesenberger said the NPS gets many more applicants than jobs that need filling, but added that the NPS hasn’t done a good job of recruiting younger employees. “Additionally, our national parks are facing a budget crisis,” she told CNN. “Even if there are ranger openings, they don’t always have the resources to fill them.”

One way the NPS is hoping to combat the decline in younger visitors and employees is through its Junior Ranger program. According to CNN, more than 800,000 kids, most between five and 13 years old, received patches and certificates through the program last year.

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Officials warned tourists visiting for the solar eclipse that polar bears are a danger in Svalbard.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Polar Bear Mauls Svalbard Tourist

Last-minute eclipse seekers had been warned

Czech tourist Jakub Moravec was camping on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard for the solar eclipse when he was dragged from his tent and mauled by a polar bear. He was treated at a local hospital for superficial claw wounds to his back.

“It was going for my head. I used my hands to protect my head,” Jakub Moravec told the AP.

Moravec had been part of a group of six tourists on the remote island archipelago. They were camping north of Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s main town, which thousands of tourists have been visiting recently to view the solar eclipse. Lodging was sold out for years in advance of the event.

It’s certainly not the first time a tourist on Svalbard has been attacked by a polar bear. The animals live on the islands and have frequent interactions with people.

Tourists had been warned in advance about the dangers of the island, especially when camping out. “I think there’s been a tendency, even before the eclipse, that a lot of people come here and they don’t know where they’re going,” Aksel Bilicz, manager of Longyearbyen Hospital, told the AP. “Both the weather conditions and the bears can be very dangerous.”

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