I’ve been thinking a lot about drug cheating recently.
I don’t mean that I’ve been looking for Xenon to inhale or contemplating shady Internet purchases for myself, I mean that I’ve been thinking about two recent news items, one that landed like a bombshell, and the other that left hardly a ripple.
The bombshell was, of course, the leaked results of Rita Jeptoo’s positive drug test for synthetic EPO following the Chicago Marathon. Jeptoo, winner at Boston and Chicago, was in line to win the World Marathon Majors title, but the WMM postponed the award pending resolution of the issue. New of the positive test unleashed a flood of commentary from all sides, with Jeptoo’s manager and coach denying responsibility and trying to pin the blame to corrupt agents in Kenya, and a debate within the Kenyan athletic world that continues to smolder.
The second news item — the one that went virtually unnoticed — was the press release last week that named 12 new inductees into the IAAF Hall of Fame. Here is the list of athletes from that press release (http://www.iaaf.org/news/iaaf-news/hall-of-fame-2014-inductees):
- Valeriy Brumel
- Glenn Davis
- Heike Drechsler
- Hicham El Guerrouj
- Marita Koch
- Robert Korzeniowski
- Janis Lusis
- Bob Mathias
- Wilma Rudolph
- Shirley Strickland de la Hunty
- Lasse Viren
- Cornelius Warmerdam
When I read some of the names on that list, I felt a little queasy. Specifically, when I saw that East Germans Marita Koch and Heike Dreschler were included, I was both surprised and discouraged. Both athletes competed in an era when the East German sports machine engaged in systematic doping using anabolic steroids.
While the two news items are quite different, they are also related. In the next two blog posts, I’d like to explore each one in detail, consider the individuals involved, and speculate on what it means for such an issue to ever be fully resolved.