We’re all stars now in the dope show

doping olympics

The drugs they say make us feel so hollow
We love in vain narcissistic and so shallow
The cops and queers to swim you have to swallow
Hate today, no love for tomorrow

We’re all stars now in the dope show

Marilyn Manson

Doping in East Germany

East Germany conducted a decades long program to feed performance-enhancing drugs to their athletes, known officially as State Plan 14.25. The drug regimens, given either with or without the knowledge of the athletes, resulted in victories in international competitions, including the Olympic Games. Many former athletes suffer from health problems related to steroid consumption.

East Germany closed itself to the sporting world in May 1965. East Germany was a Marxist-Leninist State in a time where the Right and Left wing political powers of the world constantly vied for supremacy. This desire to promote Left wing ideologies mixed with advancements in medicine lead the GDR to use their athletes as propaganda tool. The politicization of sport became a central theme for world powers following the end of the Second World War. International competitions like the Olympics, World Cup and such began to lose its athletic reputation. Incredible media attention, financial support and national reputations are all at stake. These commercial aspects coupled with the egos of nations having recently gone to war with each other meant that the sporting competitions amongst them would offer a chance to demonstrate which country was superior.

Socialist East Germany’s use of sport is similar to use of the Italian National Football team in Fascist Italy during the reign of Benito Mussolini or Nationalist Germany’s use of the 1936 Olympics during the reign of Hitler.

The total medal count of German Democratic Republic (East Germany) participants at the Winter and Summer Olympics from 1956 to 1988 amounted to 203 gold, 192 silver and 177 bronze. Most children would compete in youth sport centers and be scouted by the government, which resulted in the best prospects being taken for the purpose of intense Olympic training. These children were expected to deliver great victories and the state was willing to use anything at its disposal to ensure that. The advances in medicine and science meant that use of steroids, amphetamines, human growth hormones and blood boosting were common practice behind the scenes in training centers for professional athletes.

The results were great for East Germany but absolutely devastating for the athletes involved “While figures cannot be precise, the state inspired doping program affected perhaps as many as 10,000 athletes. Not only was cheating at the center of the program but the abuse of the athletes’ health was too. Female athletes, including adolescents, experienced virilisation symptoms and possibly as many as 1,000 sportsmen and women suffered serious and lasting physical and psychological damage”.

In 1977 the female shot-putter Ilona Slupianek, who weighed 93 kg (205 lb), tested positive for anabolic steroids at the European Cup meeting in Helsinki. The International Amateur Athletics Federation suspended Slupianek for 12 months, a penalty that ended two days before the European championships in Prague. In the reverse of what the IAAF hoped, sending her home to East Germany meant she was free to train unchecked with anabolic steroids, if she wanted to, and then compete for another gold medal, which indeed she won. After the Slupianek affair, East German athletes were secretly tested before they left the country.

Other reports came from the occasional athlete who fled to the West. There were 15 between 1976 and 1979. One, the ski-jumper Hans Georg Aschenbach, said: “Long-distance skiers start having injections to their knees from the age 14 because of their intensive training.” He said: “For every Olympic champion, there at least 350 invalids. There are gymnasts among the girls who have to wear corsets from the age of 18 because their spine and their ligaments have become so worn… There are young people so worn out by the intensive training that they come out of it mentally blank, which is even more painful than a deformed spine.”

on 26 August 1993, after the former GDR had disbanded itself to accede to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, the records were opened and the evidence was there that the Stasi, the GDR state secret police, supervised systematic doping of East German athletes from 1971 until reunification in 1990. Doping existed in other countries, both communist and capitalist but the difference with East Germany was that it was a state policy.

Doping at the Tour de France

In 1924 the journalist Albert Londres followed the Tour de France for the French newspaper, Le Petit Parisien. At Coutances he heard that the previous year’s winner, Henri Pélissier, his brother Francis and a third rider, Maurice Ville, had pulled out after a row with the organiser, Henri Desgrange. Pélissier explained the problem:
“You have no idea what the Tour de France is”, Henri said. “It’s a Calvary. Worse than that, because the road to the Cross has only 14 stations and ours has 15. We suffer from the start to the end. You want to know how we keep going? Here…” He pulled a phial from his bag. “That’s cocaine, for our eyes. This is chloroform, for our gums.”

By 1960 the then Tour doctor Pierre Dumas walked into a hotel bedroom on his nightly tour of teams to find eventual winner Gastone Nencini prone on his bed with a plastic tube running from each arm to a bottle containing hormones. The hormone injection was not illegal at the time, and indeed only few were disqualified or sanctioned whenever they were found out to be doping.

Such was the extent to which stronger drugs entered cycling that the French team manager, Marcel Bidot, was cited to an inquiry by the Council of Europe as saying: “Three-quarters of riders were doped. I am well placed to know that since I visited their rooms each evening during the Tour. I always left frightened after these visits.”

In the 1960 Tour, Roger Rivière was second to Gastone Nencini, a rider he planned to beat by tagging along with him in the mountains and then speeding away on the flat. The problem was that Nencini was lighter and a better climber and that he was such a fast descender that, in the view of another French rider, Raphaël Géminiani, “the only reason to follow Nencini downhill is if you’ve got a death wish.”
Rivière was able to stay with Nencini on the climb to the Col de Perjuret, as the pair crossed the summit together. Then came a series of descending zigzags. Nencini took the perfect line and Rivière, trying to match him, overshot a bend, fell into a ravine, and broke his back. There he was found by his team-mate, Louis Rostollan.

Rivière quickly passed the blame for his fall and his broken back on the team mechanic, accusing him of leaving oil on the wheels and the brakes for not working. The mechanic was outraged, and the doctors soon found the real reason – that so much painkiller was in Rivière’s blood that his hands were too slow to operate the brakes. He had taken a heavy dose of an opioid painkiller, Palfium, to help him stay with Nencini on Col de Perjuret. Rivière later admitted to being a drug addict, telling a newspaper how he had doped to beat the world hour record, and admitted downing thousands of tablets a year.

In 1960, the Danish rider Knud Enemark Jensen collapsed during the 100 km team time trial at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and died later in hospital. The autopsy showed he had taken amphetamine and another drug, Ronicol, which dilates the blood vessels. Pierre Dumas then led a committee of doctors demanding tests at the following Games. A national anti-doping law entered French legislation in June 1965. Performance-enhancing drugs were now illegal in France, and the first anti-doping testing began at the 1966 Tour. That year, amphetamine use in France was running at almost a third of those tested.

During 1974, a number of riders were tested positive for amphetamines, including Claude Tollet at the Tour. In 1977, a test for amphetamine-like drug Pemoline was perfected, catching five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx among others. Far from abandoning drugs, riders and their helpers concentrated on finding alternatives that could not be detected. Five-time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil argued that stopping riders using amphetamine would not stop doping, but merely lead riders to use more dangerous drugs. In the 1970s, cycling moved into the steroid era. According to Dr Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, steroids were not used to build muscle bulk, but rather to improve recovery and thereby let competitors train harder and longer and with less rest. There is also a secondary stimulant effect.

Riders became adept at circumventing controls. Their advisers learned to calculate how long it would take a drug to move from blood into urine, and therefore how much time a rider could risk waiting before going to a drugs test.

When other drugs became detectable, riders began achieving the effects of transfusion more effectively by using erythropoietin, known as EPO, a drug to increase red-cell production in anaemia sufferers. EPO became widespread. “When I saw riders with fat arses climbing cols like aeroplanes, I understood what was happening”, said the Colombian rider, Luis Herrera.

EPO’s problem for testers was that like testosterone and, before that, cortisone, they couldn’t distinguish it from what the body produced naturally. For the first time, said Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, authorities had to settle not for the presence of a drug but its presence in unusual quantities. Testers set a haematocrit limit of 50 per cent and “rested” riders who exceeded it. Bjarne Riis, the Danish rider who won the Tour in 1996, was known as “Mr 60 per cent” among riders. On 25 May 2007, he admitted he had used EPO from 1993 to 1998, including 1996 when he won the Tour.

On 8 July 1998, French Customs arrested Willy Voet, a soigneur for the Festina team, for the possession of illegal drugs, including narcotics, erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone, and amphetamines. Voet later described many common doping practices in his book, Massacre à la Chaîne. On 23 July 1998, French police raided several teams’ hotels and found drugs in the possession of the TVM team. As news spread, riders staged a sit-down strike during the 17th stage. After mediation by Jean-Marie Leblanc, the director of the Tour, police agreed to limit the most heavy-handed tactics and riders agreed to continue. Many riders and teams had already abandoned the race and only 111 riders completed the stage. In a 2000 trial, it became clear that the management and health officials of Festina had organized drug-taking within the team.

Lance Armstrong has become a symbol for doping at the Tour de France. Suspicions arose initially over his association with Italian physician Michele Ferrari and his extraordinary achievements on the road. In late August 2005, one month after Lance Armstrong’s seventh consecutive Tour victory, the French sports newspaper L’Équipe claimed evidence that Armstrong had used EPO in the 1999 Tour de France. The claim was based on urine samples archived by the French National Laboratory for Doping Detection (LNDD) for research. Armstrong denied using EPO and the UCI did not penalise him because of the lack of a duplicate sample.

In October 2012 Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of all his titles since 1 August 1998, including all his Tour de France victories, because an investigation by USADA concluded that he had been engaged in a massive doping scheme.[42] He later admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Of the cyclists who finished on the podium in the era in which Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times (1999–2005), Fernando Escartín is the sole rider not to be implicated in a doping scandal. With “20 of the 21 podium finishers in the Tour de France from 1999 through 2005 directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations or exceeding the UCI hematocrit (a blood test to discover EPO use) threshold”, Escartin’s third-place finish in the 1999 Tour de France stands as the lone of the 21 podium finishes that was untainted, during the years (1999–2005) in which Lance Armstrong finished the Tour de France in first place.

Below are the average speed of the winners (including stripped winners) of the Tour De France between 1999 & 2015. Chris Froome’s average speed in 2013 was faster than 5 out of 7 of Lance Armstrong’s winning average speeds between 1999 & 2005.

Tour de France Original Winner Speeds

Known/proven/admitted doper

Team involved in doping or doping scandal

1999 Tour de France 3,690.8 km in 91h 32′ 16″ at 40.277 km/h

2000 Tour de France 3,662.5 km in 92h 33′ 08″ at 39.556 km/h

2001 Tour de France 3,455.2 km in 86h 17′ 28″ at 40.016 km/h

2002 Tour de France 3,277.5 km in 82h 05′ 12″ at 39.982 km/h

2003 Tour de France 3,427.5 km in 83h 41′ 12″ at 40.030 km/h

2004 Tour de France 3,391.1 km in 83h 36′ 02″ at 41.016 km/h

2005 Tour de France 3,592.5 km in 86h 15′ 02″ at 41.654 km/h

2006 Tour de France 3,657.1 km in 89h 39′ 30″ at 40.789 km/h

2007 Tour de France 3,569.9 km in 91h 00′ 26″ at 39.23 km/h

2008 Tour de France 3,559 km in 87h 52′ 52″ at 40.50 km/h

2009 Tour de France 3,459.5 km in 85h 48′ 35″ at 40.31 km/h

2010 Tour de France 3,642 km in 91h 59′ 27″ at 39.60 km/h

2011 Tour de France 3,430 km in 86h 12′ 22″ at 39.79 km/h

2012 Tour de France 3,496.9 km in 87h 34′ 47″ at 39.928 km/h

2013 Tour de France 3,403.5 km in 83h 56′ 40″ at 40.544 km/h

2014 Tour de France 3,663.5 km in 89h 59′ 06″ at 40.7 km/h

2015 Tour de France 3,360.3 km in 84h 46′ 14″ at 39.639 km/h

1988 Seoul Olympics

After Canadian Ben Johnson’s victory in the 100 m at the 1988 Summer Olympics he failed the drug test when stanozolol was found in his urine. He later admitted to using the steroid as well as Dianabol, testosterone, Furazabol, and human growth hormone amongst other things. Johnson was stripped of his gold medal as well as his world-record performance. Carl Lewis was then promoted one place to take the Olympic gold title. Lewis had also run under the current world record time and was therefore recognized as the new record holder. In 2003, however, Wade Exum, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) director of drug control administration from 1991 to 2000, gave copies of documents to Sports Illustrated which revealed that some 100 American athletes who failed drug tests and should have been prevented from competing in the Olympics were nevertheless cleared to compete, among those athletes was Carl Lewis.

Lewis broke his silence on allegations that he was the beneficiary of a drugs cover-up, admitting he had tested positive for banned substances but claiming he was just one of “hundreds” of American athletes who were allowed to escape bans, concealed by the USOC. Lewis has now acknowledged that he 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.

BALCO Scandal

Balco was founded in 1984 by Victor Conte. Conte sold substances undetected from 1988 until 2002 when the official federal investigation of BALCO began. Parallel with this investigation, the USADA began its own covert investigation of Conte and his operation. In the summer of 2003, USADA investigators received a syringe with trace amounts of a mysterious substance. The anonymous tipster was Trevor Graham, sprint coach to Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.

The syringe went to Don Catlin, MD, the founder and then-director of the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, who had developed a testing process for the substance, tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).  Later that year, the Chicago Tribune named Catlin Sportsman of the Year.

He tested existing samples from athletes, of which 20 proved to be positive for THG. Athletes including Kelli White, British sprinter Dwain Chambers, shot putter Kevin Toth, middle distance runner Regina Jacobs, and hammer throwers John McEwen and Melissa Price were subsequently incriminated in the investigation.

Jason Giambi, a former American League MVP, admitted to steroid use as well as HGH use in front of a grand jury in December 2003. Giambi first became connected with BALCO after inquiring with Greg Anderson about Barry Bonds’ training regimen.

Barry Bonds’s trainer, Greg Anderson, was sentenced to jail time after refusing to testify against Bonds before a grand jury investigating the player for perjury. Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle, profiled Bonds’ alleged use of performance-enhancing substances in their 2006 book Game of Shadows. The reporters used Bonds’ testimony in front of a grand jury, and refused to reveal their source for the court documents. The U.S. government sought charges against them for leaking the testimony, but dropped them when a former attorney for Conte pled guilty to doing so.

On November 15, 2007, Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice based on his grand jury testimony in this investigation. The trial began on March 21, 2011 and he was convicted on April 13, 2011. This conviction was overturned in 2015.

Marion Jones won five medals, three gold, at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Jones attended the University of North Carolina on a basketball scholarship, but eventually shifted her focus solely to track. It was there she met shot-putter and then UNC coach C.J. Hunter, whom she married in 1998 and would divorce in 2002. A former world champion, Hunter, also involved with BALCO, was caught using performance-enhancing drugs. The publicity surrounding this led many to believe Jones herself used such drugs as well, an accusation she vehemently denied over and over again. Jones then began a relationship with American sprinter Tim Montgomery, leading to the birth of a son. Montgomery himself benefited from the banned substances he received from BALCO, and the one-time 100 meter record holder has been stripped of his awards and records since admitting to steroid use. After news of Montgomery’s cheating broke, Jones was again faced with increased doubt as to the integrity of her career, yet she continued to deny any wrongdoing. Finally, in October 2007, Jones admitted to lying to federal agents about her use of performance-enhancing drugs. Jones has handed over the five Olympic medals she won in Sydney and retired from the sport.

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