The Upset Underbelly of an Olympic Doctor

Wall Street Journal Health Blog—August 14, 2008

Being a doctor to one of the most decorated swim teams in history is not as glamorous as it might seem. Scott Rodeo, M.D., of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, is currently poolside in Beijing, tending to Michael Phelps and his teammates as they strive for medals. And according to Rodeo, they’re doing so with upset tummies.

“On the medical side, I have kept busy treating gastrointestinal upset and traveler’s diarrhea,” Rodeo writes on the blog he has been keeping since his arrival in China. “This type of thing, it’s a lot of travel medicine: GI problems, upper respiratory problems,” he said later.

While all of these complaints are common for travelers, anything out of balance on an Olympic athlete’s body during competition could throw them off their game — so Olympic docs treat aggressively, pushing fluids and antibiotics when anything seems amok.

And what of Phelps? As part of his duties overseas, Rodeo also looks after the swimming phenomenon, who — in addition to eating a remarkable 12,000 calories a day to keep up with his vigorous training — apparently has a “remarkable” ability to recover, something Rodeo attributes to his ability to clear lactic acid from his system after physical activity.

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Read U.S. Olympic Team Physician Scott Rodeo's blog from Beijing at


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