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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Yet Another Steroid Story



Sadly, great performances will always be suspect.

Bet when you saw the title, you thought this post was about Lance Armstrong. Well, yes and no.  Below is an article from the London Olympics concerning the disqualification of the female shotput gold medalist from Belarus. A strange story about how her coach supposedly spiked her food without her knowledge. A similar scenerio occured in '96 in weighlifting when a Russian lifter tested postive and was allowed to lift when he presented the case that his jealous ex-girlfriend spiked his milkshake. The Russian Federation was assessed a fine and he was able to compete.
 It has been a steady stream of negative stories of steroid and drug usage for years now. Even those who manage to pass random testing are being exposed. Marion Jones and now Lance Armstrong are two examples of those who fell long and hard. I am all for a level playing field, but I'm not sure we have the means to ensure that. They can strip Lance Armstrong of his amazing 7 Tour de France titles, but they can't give another clean athlete the thrill of putting on the yellow jersey after a grueling ride those 7 times. It's over and done and too late to fix. Being awarded a championship days, weeks, or months after the event is not the same. There is often question as to whether the default medalists were any cleaner than the exposed cheaters.
The saddest part, in my opinion, is that the credibility of all sport is severely challenged in the eyes of the general public. Now every coach potato who has never worked or sweated for anything, who knows nothing about performance enhancing substances, legal or illegal,  smuggly sits watching great performances and attributing them to "steroids". They will still feed the major league baseball, NFL football, and the NBA machines out of habit and for the spectacle, but they assume that all great track and weightlifting or strongman athletes are on steroids. Sadly, I have to admit, it even makes experienced followers like myself view outstanding performances with some suspicion. The days of using athletics as a tool to develop fair play and work ethic among our youth have been replaced by cynicism. Who can we trust? When will they be caught?

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarus shot putter Nadezhda Ostapchuk, who was stripped of the Olympic gold medal last month after testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid, has been handed a one-year suspension, the country's anti-doping agency (NADA) said on Tuesday.

Ostapchuk, 31, was given a lesser sentence than a standard two-year ban after her coach Alexander Yefimov admitted intentionally spiking her food with the steroid.
"Yefimov confessed he had put the banned drug metenolone into Ostapchuk's food without her knowledge because he was worried by her performances in the lead-up to the London Games," NADA head Alexander Vankhadlo told a news conference.
Yefimov has received a four-year suspension for his part in the doping case.
"He had admitted his guilt," added Vankhadlo.
Ostapchuk has denied any wrongdoing, saying she was tested twice before competing in London and both tests returned negative results.
"In total, I've been tested 16 times since April. You must be a complete idiot to take doping just before the competition especially such an outdated drug as a steroid, knowing you're going to be tested not once but probably several times," Ostapchuk said last month.
Ostapchuk, who had won the Olympic gold with a throw of 21.36 metres, was world champion in 2005 and European champion two years ago. In July, at a meeting in Minsk, she threw 21.58, the best outdoor distance in the world since 1998.
New Zealand's Valerie Adams, who finished second behind Ostapchuk in London, was awarded gold, with Russian Evgenia Kolodko promoted to silver and China's Gong Lijiao getting the bronze medal.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/09/11/sports/olympics/11reuters-olympics-doping-ostapchuk-ban.html?hp

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