New novel documents author’s ‘Morphed’ perception of sport doping
February 8, 2012
In 2002, Harvey Shapiro, a practicing medical doctor who divides his time between Park City and San Diego, Calif., volunteered for the Olympics.
Since he was a doctor, he was assigned to be a doping control officer, or DCO.
His main job was to knock on the athletes’ doors in the middle of the night and ask for urine samples.
"They didn’t like me and I didn’t like that part of the job, either," Shapiro said during an interview with The Park Record. "I felt more like a cop than a doc."
During the Games, Shapiro, who trained with the United States Doping Association for his volunteer posts at the Utah Olympic Park and Olympic Oval in West Valley, also did drug testing on the hockey players in Provo.
It was during his spare time that he conceived his novel "Morphed," which is a story about a doctor named Speak Singleton and his performance-enhancing drug experiment with an aging cyclist Luke Garver.
Recommended Stories For You
"I had a lot of time on my hands, so I started thinking about how people would really cheat in sports if they wanted to," Shapiro said. "I went through all kinds of different scenarios. I ran through ideas of corrupt DCOs to big corporations who would bribe people to turn their heads to doping."
Shapiro finally came up with an idea of a Dr. Singleton who comes up with a drug that treats a disease but gets frustrated with the system because the administration wouldn’t give him permission to market it.
In the book, which is set in Park City, Singleton winds up administering the drug and gets kicked out of the university.
"I thought about him still wanting to explore the drug and finding an old, aging cyclist for his experiments," Shapiro said. "When he finds the athlete, he dopes him and turns him into a ‘geriatric poster boy’ who breaks all the records Lance Armstrong set."
As Shapiro wrote the book over these past 10 years, his personal perceptions regarding doping changed.
"I realized in the sense that everyone in society dopes," he said. "Whether it’s Viagra, or HGH that makes people look younger, or event altering DNA, we have created an environment where it’s not about the bike race, but about the human race.
"As humans, we are racing to look better, and to do all these things that we can’t do when we get old," he said. "That’s the lesson that I tried to embed in this book."
One reason he came to that conclusion was seeing how the sports world is driven by money.
"People want to see records broken," he said. "Athletes want sponsors and that environment makes it almost impossible for doping to not happen," he said. "That’s why I titled the book ‘Morphed.’ My own morphing went from ‘I’m totally against doping and that’s why I’m doing this job,’ to ‘I’m a doctor, and we like to add years to life.’ And finally it went on a bit further to the point that ‘As doctors, we add quality to those years.’
"Seriously, we give artificial hips and so many other things that help us function better at older ages, that it puts all of us into a mode of accepting doping. This is a novel, but it is also about my own personal trip."
Harvey Shapiro, medical doctor and author of "Morphed," will be at Dolly’s Bookstore, 510 Main St., on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. "Morphed" is a novel based around the Olympics and doping, where the world’s first genetically altered athlete is uncovered. There will be a free book giveaway during the signing. For more information, visit /harveyshapirobooks.com/ or http://www.dollysbookstore.com