Monday, August 1, 2016

Arlene Corwin writes

The Doped Olympics

Why don’t they simply create a new branch
And call it the Doped Olympics?

By the laws of semantics,

It soon would come into the 
language, legitimized.
Youth forgets past.

Soon the word would have l
ost its original shame,
While the name of the game

Would be guilt-free and blame-free

And those who would qualify

Could have drug freedom, b
uild muscles defined,
And have bodies divine.

If they dropped dead at forty

At least they’d have e
ntertained millions,
Fulfilled their ambitions,

Made lots of folk rich,

And set records untold.

Let those few or many s
pend hours in training;
Let chemists develop concoctions so new

That the pole-vaulter flies,

And the sprinter’s a jaguar,

The shot put is sent into orbits of space,

The long jumper jumps twenty meters,

While men become fierce

And the women grow beards,

Which gives all of the chemists new projects to work on.

A yes to the dopey Doped Games!

olympic cocaine.jpg
(Bag of cocaine with the 2016 Rio de Janeiro logo and the Olympics rings ,a stamp identifying the point of sale, and a warning to "keep away from children")


  1. Doop is a thick dipping sauce. The Dutch took the word to South Africa, where it became ‘dop,” an alcoholic drink used as a stimulant in native ceremonial dances, and to the US, where it described how robbers stupefied victims by mixing tobacco with jimsonweed seeds (which contain tropane alkaloids that cause sedation, hallucination, and confusion). By 1889, "dope" was used in connection with the preparation of a thick viscous preparation of opium, and during the 1890s to any stupefying narcotic drug. In 1900, dope was defined as "a preparation of drugs designed to influence" the performance of racehorses. (Roman chariot racers used to drink herbal infusions to strengthen themselves,) The use of performance-enhancing tactics or external devices to influence the outcome of sporting events has been a part of the Olympics since its inception,. Athletes drank "magic" potions and ate exotic meats to gain an athletic edge, but if they were caught cheating their likenesses were engraved in stone and placed on a pathway that led to the Olympic stadium. When the Olympics were revived millennia later, the practice continued. For instance, Thomas Hicks, he American marathon winner at the 1904 games, was given strychnine and brandy by his coach during the race. Amphetamine was produced in 1887, and in 1928 Gordon A. Alles ( an American chemist and pharmacologist who began his career by studying the isolation and properties of insulin; ironically, in 1963, not knowing he was diabetic, he died from diabetes) discovered its psychological effects, along with those of the hallucinogenic amphetamine methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA, the original ecstasy) in 1930, which was an outgrowth of that discovery; he sold his amphetaminepatent to Smith, Kline & French (SKF), which used it to develop Benzedrine and other products. (Alles also worked with SKF to isolate medically useful drugs from cannabis; partly funded by the U.S. Army’s chemical warfare program, he did further research on hallucinogenic amphetamines and investigated hallucinogenic and stimulant chemicals in the khat plant, starting with a 1955 expedition to Ethiopia to study its use in traditional medicine, and traveled to Tahiti to investigate the kava root as a new source of tranquilizers.) Benzedrine made its first appearance in sport at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. (Widely used by the Royal Air Force, "Methedrine won the Battle of Britain" according to one report, but also led to more crash landings than the RAF could tolerate, so it was withdrawn.)

  2. In 1954, John Ziegler (“Montana Jack”) accompanied the American weightlifting team to Vienna and learned that Soviet athletes were being given testosterone to improve their performance. (The son of the physician who had discovered the use of salt tablets to fight dehydration, Ziegler had been serious wounded as a marine in World War II, leading him to specialize in recuperative medicine and to established a practice treating handicapped and seriously injured patients. He also became an enthusiastic weightlifter at the York Barbell Club, the center of American fitness training under its owner Bob Hoffman, a former Mr. America contender and the author of the 1939 classic, “Weight Lifting”). Inspired by his conversation in Vienna, Ziegler examined the Nazi experiments on testosterone and worked with CIBA Pharmaceuticals to develop methandrostenolone (Dianabol, DBOL), an oral anabolic steroid, in 1958. (Anabolic-androgenic steroids, AAS, had been isolated, identified, and synthesized in the 1930s,) Ziegler then provided it to the entire U.S. Olympic weightlifting team in Rome in 1960. (He later became an outspoken critic of doping and died in 1983 from the heart disease which he believed resulted from his experimentation with steroids.) At those same 1960 games, the Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen lost consciousness under the under the influence of amphetamine and Ronicol (which dilates the blood vessels), fell from his bicycle during the 100 km team time trial and died. By the mid–1960s, sports federations began to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and the International Olympic Committee followed suit in 1967, resulting in Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, a Swedish pentathlete at the 1968 games, being deprived of his bronze medal for alcohol use. Nevertheless, between 1956 and 1972, the weight of Olympic shot putters increased 14 %, whereas steeplechasers’ weight increased 7.6 %.

  3. The Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany) established State Plan 14.25, a program of coercive administration and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to perhaps 10,000 athletes to bolster their success in international competitions, causing a thousand or more of them to suffer serious and lasting physical and psychological damage, including virilisation symptoms, miscarriages, impaired liver function, impotency, gynecomastia (male breast formation), increased estrogen, erectile dysfunction, hair loss and male pattern baldness in women, hypertrophy of the clitoris, menstrual irregularities, of the menstrual cycle, premature closure of the epiphysis, and ovarian cysts. Ski-jumper Hans Georg Aschenbach, who defected to the West, claimed that there were at least 350 East German invalids for every champion. In the 1986 European Championships in Athletics, Heidi Krieger won the gold in shot putting after being systematically given anabolic steroids since the age of 16; in 1997, as a result of the drugs’ androgenic effects, she underwent sex reassignment surgery and changed her name to Andreas. Often, doping was carried out without the knowledge of the athletes, some of them as young as 10 years of age. The program was supervised by the Stasi, the DDR state secret police, from 1971 until German reunification in 1990. In 1972, East German female swimmers had won foul silver medals and one bronze but picked up 10 golds, six silvers, and a bronze in 1976. From 1974, Manfred Ewald, the head of the sports federation, imposed blanket doping. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the country collected nine gold medals; four years later, in Montreal, its total was 20, and in 1976 it was 40. In 1977 the Kreischa testing laboratory near Dresden (Zentrales Dopingkontroll-Labor des Sportmedizinischen Dienstes) passed into government control; it made around 12,000 tests a year but almost no East German athlete ever failed an official drugs test; the only East German athlete ever to be convicted of doping was shot putter Ilona Slupianek, who tested positive at the 1977 European Cup in Helsinki. The International Amateur Athletics Federation suspended her for 12 months, meaning she was free to train unchecked in her home country; the suspension ended two days before the European championships in Prague, where she won another gold medal. After the Slupianek affair, athletes were secretly tested before they left the country; those who tested positive were removed from temporarily removed from international competition, and the media would be informed that the withdrawal was due to a training injury. In 1978, after defecting, sprinter Renate Neufeld said her trainer advised her to take “vitamins” to improve her performance, “but I soon had cramp in my legs, my voice became gruff and sometimes I couldn't talk any more. Then I started to grow a moustache and my periods stopped. I then refused to take these pills. One morning in October 1977, the secret police took me at 7am and questioned me about my refusal to take pills prescribed by the trainer. I then decided to flee…”

  4. Jay Silvester, a 1972 silver medalist in the discus, conducted a survey among 1984 Olympians and found that the steroid use among them ranged from 10 to 100 mg a day. In 1988, at the Seoul Olympics, Canadian runner Ben Johnson was stripped of his victory in the 100 meter dash (and his world speed record) when stanozolol was found in his urine; the medal passed to the race’s runner-up, Carl Lewis of the US, even though he had failed three tests during the 1988 US Olympic trials, which under international rules at the time should have prevented him from competing in the Seoul games. In 1998, butterfly swimmer Andrea Pollack, who won two gold and two silver medals at the 1976 games, accused her physicians and coaches of systematically doping her, leading the US Olympics Committee to ask for the redistribution of the gold medals; despite German court rulings that substantiated her claims, the IOC announced it had no intention of revising the record books. It also rejected a similar petition from the British Olympic Association on behalf of swimmer Sharron Davies, who silvered at the 1980 games in Moscow behind East Germany’s Petra Schneider, who admitted that the victory was drug enhanced. But, under pressure, in 1999 the IOC began a systematic, comprehensive initiative against the practice with the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the drug testing regimen (the "Olympic Standard") became the benchmark for many sporting federations worldwide. Nevertheless, the IOC and WADA share many top officials, and WADA receives half of its funding from the IOC, causing many critics to question whether WADA has the political will to unearth doping violations that could tarnish the Olympic brand. In 2015, WADA accused Russia of state-sponsored doping among track and field athletes, and in June 2016 the sport’s governing body unanimously voted to bar the Russians from the games in Rio de Janeiro. This led to a “New York Times” report of allegations by Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of the drug-testing laboratory at the 2014 Sochi winter games, that, with the help of the nation’s intelligence service, Russia’s own WADA-accredited lab had substituted steroid-laced urine samples and had consistently evaded the detection of antidoping authorities. WADA then launched an investigation which resulted in a report issued just one month before the beginning of the Rio games. Referring to forensic evidence and computer records that corroborated Dr. Rodchenkov’s account, WADA insisted that the activities had extended well beyond Sochi and across sports, and called on the IOC to bar Russia from the Rio games. Instead, the IOC deferred to the relevant sport federations to evaluate the eligibility of individual Russian athletes, ruled that any Russian athletes with prior doping sanctions could not compete, and blamed WADA for its slow response. The various federations subsequently cleared more than 250 for Olympic competition, but more than 100 (including the track and field team) were disqualified.

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