Monday, May 7, 2012


By: Chris Cooper

Published: The Observer, Sunday, May 6, 2012;

Level of Difficulty: ***


1.       How important is fair play in sports or athletics and how can it be provided?

2.       How reliable are the current methods of providing fairness?

3.       What else could be done to ensure fair play?


1.       The erroneous explanation provided to explain why men are physically more powerful than women is the fact that ………………………………………………………………..(Use your own words and be brief)

2.       What seems to be the real reason for the above situation?

3.       Read paragraph three carefully and state clearly what conclusion can be drawn from it.

4.       The writer says that “Female world and Olympic records set prior to random drug testing have been much harder to break”.  How does the writer qualify this statement? Note to the student: this question means you are required to find a sentence – not necessarily the very next one – which provides the same information but expands on it. It should logically follow the statement in the question.

5.       Read the story of Dora Ratjen and state clearly whether her case was a deliberate attempt to mislead. How do you know?

6.       Read the story of AIS. What conclusion can be drawn from this information as regards the issue at hand?

7.       Read the story of Caster Semenya. In view of what you know about AIS, should she have been allowed to compete? Should people with AIS be allowed to compete at all? Discuss.

8.       If genetic enhancement is acceptable, why not pharmacological? Would it not level the playing field? Discuss.

9.       What is the current official answer to the dilemma above?

10.   What does the phrase “This cosy hypothesis” refer to?

11.   What does “this” refer to in the question “Is this fair”?

12.   Now explain where you stand in relation to the dilemma.

13.   Now read the last paragraph of the text. What does “this” refer to in the sentence “I once would have thought this a fantasy”?


Write an essay in which you answer the question posed by the writer of the text: What do we do to ensure fairness in a competition? Alternatively, write an opinion essay in which you discuss your own views concerning the dilemmas presented in the text.


This is a text with a most definite wow factor as it is all about an issue that the students have not read about in class. It, therefore, has novelty value. The dilemmas raised in the text are also novel, which will make students sit up and focus. The questions are of varying levels of difficulty but the vast majority are analytical to some degree as are a lot of the questions on this blog. The referrals are dynamite so look out. Due to the nature of the topic, I have slipped in some moral dilemmas as well; a perfectly legit practice. I have high hopes for this task.

1.       Men hunt

2.       Males fight other males in competition for mates.

3.       Evolution has allowed a large scope for improvement to any female…

4.       Steroid doping that was widespread in the 1980’s has had a more dramatic effect in female sport than in male sport.

5.       No. Given the nature of the times…

6.       This 100 fold increase suggests the possibility of some performance enhancement due to this syndrome.

7.       Open ended.

8.       Open ended.

9.       Elite athletes are all genetic anomalies; it is just a question of how extreme the anomaly.

10.   Performance is multifactorial

11.   EPO is top of the list of performance enhancing chemicals yet there is someone who through an accident of birth is behaving exactly as if he were doping with EPO.

12.   Open ended.

13.   There being different classes dependent on different genetic sequences in key molecules. Open ended.

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