Society & Culture

Got Olympic fever? UGA experts available to discuss doping, legacy and more

Athens, Ga. – Will doping be the issue of the Rio Olympics? What will Rio’s Olympic Games legacy be? The University of Georgia has experts from pharmacologists to nutritionists, sports journalists to sports managements experts available to comment on issues ranging from Olympic legacy to the refugee Olympic team.

Randall Tackett
Professor, clinical and administrative pharmacy, College of Pharmacy
Contact: 706-542-5415,
Expertise: abused drugs, adverse drug effects

On doping
“From a pharmacologist standpoint, it always concerns me when people are taking drugs for instances they were never developed for. Many of these drugs, the safety of these drugs have not been tested for these particular uses. Their use of these supplements has not been scientifically proven or examined. So my concern is, especially with these highly trained athletes and especially these young athletes is there is a very strong potential for long-term damage, either injury or some other issues that may occur. And many times we may not be able to identify necessarily what these side effects are, what these long-term effects are. Because they are not going to be reported and they are sort of off the radar.”

Full interview available here

Becca Leopkey
Assistant professor, kinesiology, College of Education
Expertise: Olympic Games, event legacy, sport organizations, sport events

Leopkey studies the long-term effects, or legacy, of sporting events on host countries or communities. Her most recent research looks at the legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she is finding that there is often a large gap between a host’s original goals and objectives and the event’s actual long-term legacy. Leopkey, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology, has found that event legacy as Olympic concept has become increasingly diversified. Her research has shown 13 ways to classify an Olympic event’s legacy, including cultural, economic, environmental, nostalgia, political, psychological and sport.

“When we’re looking at Brazil or any games for that matter, legacy is a much bigger thing; the overall legacy of the games is not just infrastructure or financial, it’s all of these things together,” she said. “Many times, it is the intangible outcomes or the things you can’t measure, like the impact on youth or volunteers, that can ultimately have a bigger impact. The problem is, there are so many existing issues in Brazil that the positive impacts get overshadowed.”

Jepkorir Rose Chepyator-Thomson
Professor, kinesiology, College of Education
Contact: 706-542-4434,

A former world-class athlete from Kenya, Chepyator-Thomson teaches sport management in the department of kinesiology. Her expertise lies in the areas of global forces on the Olympic Games. As an athlete, Chepyator-Thomson qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, but did not compete when Kenya boycotted the games.

This year she expects Kenyan runners to continue their tradition of dominance at the Olympics. “Competitive sports and athletics over the years defined Kenya’s international stature,” she said. In Kenya, “sports are emphasized at the school level as part of the larger framework of physical education to enhance the physical well-being of early childhood development, with participation in physical activity and games in schools being considered components of effective recreation and leisure time among primary and secondary schools students.”

This year’s Olympics goes beyond the medals and athletes. “The Olympics in Rio is about using sport to transform local and global communities to make human living conditions better for everyone,” she said. “It is also about demonstration of stellar performances and promotion of changes conducive to eradication of poverty and establishment of human rights using the games as a platform.”

Vicki Michaelis
Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism & Society, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
Contact: 706-542-5031,, @VickiMichaelis, @GradySports
Expertise: sports journalis.  She has covered six Olympic Games as a reporter for USA Today.

“With each Olympic Games, we see record levels of social media activity as competitors, media and fans interact. I expect these Olympics to be no different, with newer platforms such as Snapchat in the spotlight. In the midst of all this social media activity, where results will be posted the moment they’re known, NBC again will have to be creative in capturing the audience for its prime-time coverage.”

“Especially because of the Zika virus and Brazil’s political unrest, the media will examine the burden of hosting an Olympics like never before. The coverage could lead to significant shifts in how aspiring host cities/countries approach Olympic bids, and in how the International Olympic Committee evaluates potential hosts.”

“The Syrian refugee crisis, coupled with Donald Trump’s stance on immigration, creates the potential for Olympic storylines with political and social impact. The refugee Olympic team will be a primary driver of these storylines.”

Jamie Cooper
Assistant professor, foods and nutrition, UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences
Contact: 706-542-4903 or
Expertise: sports nutrition, metabolism and energy balance, hunger and satiety, dietary fats

“Athletes preparing for, and competing in, the Summer Olympics should follow a healthy diet that is rich in carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. This diet will provide the nutrients they need to fuel training and performance while also maintaining optimal health. Dietary supplements are also used by some Olympic athletes to try to achieve optimal physical performance.”

The University of Georgia will have 28 current, former and incoming student-athletes as well as four coaches representing the U.S. and nine other nations in the Olympic and Paralympic games.