"Holding himself responsible for his son’s death, Dr. Speak Singleton relocates to Park City, Utah, where his role as the doping control officer (DCO) in the cycling events of the 2012 Olympics presents him with an opportunity for atonement.
When Liam Singleton is caught using topical testosterone, a form of steroids, his father, Speak, an emergency room doctor, is quick to chastise him; only hours later, Speak stares at the lifeless body of his son, who crashed into a tree on the way to the emergency room. Liam’s death is the final blow to Speak and Fiona’s marriage; she walks out while Speak relocates to the solitary confines of Park City, where he’s determined to preserve the anti-doping system as the DCO in the cycling events of the 2012 Olympics. Immediately apparent are the sinister intentions of Team USA member and Tour de France winner Luke Garver and Coach Whitford, a medical genius who has devised a muscle-DNA altering substance that will not only pass through the anti-doping system but can also reduce the effects of aging. Seemingly past his prime, Garver, who has been shattering all of the cycling records set by Lance Armstrong, is a living example of Whitford’s prowess. Whitford and his right-hand man, Flint, know no bounds, as evidenced by the brutal slaying of Erik Hikem. Speak meets Troy Hale, another member of Team USA, through Hikem’s accident and immediately likens Troy to his son. Despite his insecurities and intimacy issues, Speak is a compassionate character who seeks the female touch and finds it in paramedic and fellow volunteer Julia Anderson. The dichotomy between the two medical practitioners, Speak and Whitford, is stunning—while one is ready to endure criticism and a tarnished reputation in his fight against steroids, the other is just as determined to plow through any obstacle that will prevent him from becoming rich through his creation, regardless of the cost in human lives and side effects of genetic doping.
Speak and Whitford, two characters who have a scarred past and are searching for redemption—or revenge—are, on their own, enough to make this narrative a worthwhile read. The element of the 2012 Summer Olympics, educational information on steroids, fast-paced dialogue and the relationships between Troy and Speak and Speak and Julia are simply icing on the cake."
San Francisco Book Review/Sacramento Book Review
Morphed By Harvey Shapiro, Amazon Digital Services, $9.99, 447 KB, Format: eBook, Star Rating: 4 out of 5
If the words depressingly timely can be applied to a novel, that novel is Morphed. Essentially a story of the various steroids, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and other pharmaceutical additives used to give athletes -- in this case, Olympic cyclists -- that precious, vita, gold medal luring extra hundredth of a second, Morphed is about much more than just that.
Sports page coverage of what are broadly termed “Steroid Scandals” tend to massively focus on the athletes; after all the readers and certainly the sportswriters know the athletes of baseball, football or the Tour de France as celebrities. Plus a focus on the athlete himself allows for the Morality Play that is at the heart of sport. The fan cheers; yet in the great balance of the universe, the fan must equally boo.
Yet is it entirely fair to totally blame the athlete? The cyclist in Shapiro's book, Troy Hale, is typical of the greater breed: A young man focused on Olympic Gold in 2012 who knows that to get there, he must trust his team of mentors -- trainers, coaches, and, oh yes, team doctors. There can be no prescription without a prescribing doctor, and so Shapiro wisely focuses his narrative on them.
In particular, there are two medical practitioners in conflict here. One is Speak Singleton, who after seeing his own son die in Speak's Emergency Room from an overdose of performance enhancements, takes it as his quest to keep sport clean. The other is the American cycling team's Coach Whitford to whom the end justifies any means. One man has morphed into a crusader; the other into a facilitator. It is the moral dilemma that moves this novel into the outstanding category. That morality conflict is very much a heart vs. mind, subjective vs. objective competition. Singleton is driven to leave his emergency room and move to Salt Lake City in a desire to save other athletes' from both his son's and his own fate. When he was unable to save his boy Liam, he also lost his marriage to Liam's mother. Save lives - save hearts - save love. To Whitford, it his job to make goals into gold. Chillingly, he sees nothing wrong in what he does. After all, it's what 'they' want, now isn't it?
"Trained medical doctor Harvey Shapiro takes the recent trend of steroid use amongst athletes to the next level in MORPHED. For every step at better monitoring and enforcing anti-steroid laws that the officials take, it seems that there is someone out there figuring out how to improve the drugs and make them harder to detect. Here it is a cycling coach who has developed a way to modify the DNA structure of an athlete's muscles. Luke Garver is an accomplished but older cyclist who has had a second burst of record-breaking performances late-in-the-game, and he works with this coach. Meanwhile, Dr. Speak Singleton has a very personal reason for devoting himself whole-heartedly to his work as a DCO (doping control officer) for the 2012 Olympics: his son died of steroid use. As Singleton seeks to ease his conscience, for he blames himself for his son's death, others will do whatever it takes to win. Shapiro brings credible medical knowledge and readable style to this medical-sports thriller."
Harvey Shapiro, M.D., the former Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of California San Diego, has penned a medical-thriller about anabolic steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and gene doping entitled “Morphed: Winning at Any Cost Even if it Means Altering Your DNA”. Shapiro was inspired to write the novel after he served as a Doping Control Officer at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. During his time collecting urine samples from Olympic athletes, he spent considerable time thinking about all the means and methods by which athletes use steroids and PEDs while going undetected by anti-doping personnel. READ MORE...