Book Review: The Night Olympic Team

“Night falls on the Olympic Village. Lights go out one by one. The Olympic flame bounces alone in the cold, the only movement till dawn. Or is it?”

It’s winter, 2002, in Utah. In a remote laboratory, tucked in the snow-covered foothills away from the Olympic Village, a team of scientists are gearing up to do what few people think of as part of being a scientist. These real-life crime fighters are out to catch cheaters.

THE NIGHT OLYMPIC TEAM is a true story of how a team of UCLA scientists worked through the nights of the 2002 Salt Lake City games to figure out which athletes, if any, were taking banned drugs. The story shows in detail how the scientists came to arrive at their conclusion: someone had indeed cheated. All-night work sessions, secret meetings in the nearby wilderness and racing with the clock were all part of what the team had to do in order to catch the wrongdoers before the games were over.

Author Caroline Hatton not only tells how these science sleuths successfully identified the dishonest athletes, but she also gives readers an up-close look at the history of doping in athletics, the health risks involved with taking blood-boosters and performance-enhancing drugs, and how and why athletes resort to using them.

This book is a must-read for young athletes. Photographs of the Olympic Games and the scientists at work enhance an already fascinating story. The book concludes with “Sports Smarts: Healthy Ways to Enhance Performance” (tips for kids to compete in a healthy manner), a glossary of terms and an author’s note that discusses the ongoing debate about these drugs and the legislation involving them. The School Library Journal says, “Teachers and young readers will appreciate Hatton’s personable manner and her keen perspective on this timely subject.”

In addition to being a best-selling children’s author, Dr. Caroline Hatton was a scientist at the UCLA Olympic Lab and a member of “the night Olympic team.” She has carefully created a story that addresses a mature and controversial topic in a clear, truthful and intriguing manner for kids. You can learn more about her and her books by clicking here.

The Night Olympic Team/ ISBN 978-1-59078-566-9/2008/Boyds Mills Press