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News: Drug Busts Upset Legend
Topic: News: Drug Busts Upset Legend (Read 525 times)
Chris Ⓐ LeRoux
MS, CSCS, Exempt from USAW bureaucrats
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News: Drug Busts Upset Legend
Aug 04, 2006, 10:51 AM »
Drug Busts Upset Legend
By Robert Craddock
RAELENE Boyle spoke for millions of bewildered sports fans this week when she stood in front of 300 attentive lunch guests and declared: "I'm really pissed off."
The subject, of course, was drugs.
Boyle was interviewed at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame lunch in Brisbane on Thursday and barely had to be gently steered in the direction of the subject to let her candid feelings be known.
"I just get frustrated when I look at some performances and think 'I'm very sorry, I don't think they are genuine'," Boyle said.
"I don't believe you win that many of that event consecutively or you rise to beat the world record by that far, particularly in my sport, weightlifting and cycling."
"As a fairly informed person in these areas, I am always suspicious. It's really sad because I love sport. Sport is such a great saviour for our youth. When I see so many of these happening, people getting caught, I think: 'Where do you direct your youth to?' "
Earlier in the week news had broken that Olympic and world 100m champion Justin Gatlin failed a drugs test in April.
It came as Tour de France cycling champion Floyd Landis was accused of having elevated testosterone levels and baseballer Barry Bonds prepared to face a grand jury inquiry in the United States into allegations of extensive steroid use.
It was quite a trifecta â€“ the world's fastest man, its strongest cyclist and its most dynamic baseball hitter â€“ all on the juice.
Like most other sports fans, Boyle feels sad she can no longer gain categorical enjoyment from watching a supreme performance because she feels she cannot trust it.
Boyle, who famously took silver medals behind drug-fuelled East German Renate Stecher in the 100m and 200m finals of the Munich Olympics, insists her concern is for the cleanskin athlete rather than her personal lament.
"I'm frustrated with it all. I don't give a damn about my own career because I have a pretty good life," she said. "If I had a choice of living Renate's life and having gold medals and having my own life on the Sunshine Coast and having silver medals, I would go for my life every time."
Eight years ago Boyle visited Stecher in Germany and found her living a modest life with a husband and three children in a two-bedroom apartment, a cast-off of a brutal regime in which athletes were treated like machines and then coldly discarded.
Boyle rues the fact that the Olympic movement has been so slow-moving in its stance on drugs, given that the warning bells have been ringing loud and long for decades.
"In my era it was not what you'd call suspicious. It was systematic doping," she said.
"It was the time when the ICO should have put their foot down and made changes.
"That would have protected our young athletes who have suffered since. It's sad it didn't happen quickly enough.
"Today with WADA (the World Anti-Doping Authority) we are seeing things happen but we are still seeing guys get off on technicalities. It really pisses me off. We don't seem to be winning the war."
Boyle's thoughts were echoed by Ron Clarke, one-time holder of 18 world distance records, who believes blood samples should be taken from all Olympic medallists and frozen for possible future testing.
"That way, as technology improves, if they were found in the future to have cheated they can have their place in history or their medals taken off them," he said.
Clarke can be excused for feeling let down about the war on drugs because he was one of the first athletes to express public concern about drugs, in 1964 after the Tokyo Olympics.
"I came back in '64 and wrote an article about how drugs were taking over the Olympics," Clarke said. "I was told to shut up and if I ever mentioned drugs again I would be thrown out.
"Dallas Long (the American Olympic shot put gold medallist of 1964) was the one who opened my eyes. He was a big Texas oil worker who had plenty of money and could easily have purchased the drugs. He was 19 and six foot five. He just said 'I'm not going on . . . it's too tainted'.
"What I wanted to do in 1964 was join all the medical bodies together so they always registered the developments with the central body.
"The chemists are always ahead of the police. The dilemma I have always had is that some guys out there are cheating. Others aren't. The very nature of chemistry is that you are trying to detect something that has already happened (rather than something that might develop).
"I was fearful from the very start the legitimate performances would be mixed up with the illegitimate ones. You really can't tell the difference. When you let one person get away with it they set a standard no one else can reach.
"The best example of that were the women's 100m and 200m records, which are just unbelievable when they were set and still are."
Both records are held by American Florence Griffith-Joyner who died suddenly of an epileptic seizure at the age of 38 after a career tainted by drug allegations which were never proved.
Her death sparked rumours that her heart simply gave way under the strain of long-time steroid abuse.
Eighteen years after she set them the records still make the jaw drop. Her 100m time of 10.49sec is a staggering 0.27sec in front of history's next best in a race where a quarter of a second is a lion's leap.
In the 200m her margin ahead of the best of the rest is the same â€“ 0.27sec â€“ and the fact that the next six times were all recorded by suspect East Germans shows how dominant she was.
"That those records are owned by Flo Jo is stupid," Clarke said. "She broke her records on steroids. It's obvious how those records were set. That is almost an incentive to do it the wrong way.
"It does annoy people like Raelene, me and John Landy. We were cleanskins but now you almost feel you are being holier than thou by saying you don't believe in drugs."
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"Show me the government that does not infringe upon anyone's rights, and I will no longer call myself an anarchist." ~Jacob Halbrooks
News: Drug Busts Upset Legend
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