Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Don't be a dope about doping

Published:Monday | January 18, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Dr Warren Blake, head of Jamaica's athletics programme.

Chairman of UK Athletics Ed Warner recently proposed that all world records be expunged. This is one of a number of poorly thought out ideas that has come from Mr Warner. President of the JAAA, Dr Warren Blake - like just about everyone else - disagrees. After all, five of those records are owned by Jamaicans who have absolutely no shadow of doubt hanging over their heads.

Perhaps Dr Blake should have just left it at that. But subsequent comments cause us to part company. Here is what he says: "I know, over time, people have wondered about certain records, but I have always been of the position that if nothing has ever been proven against the people in question, no matter what the suspicions are, you can't do anything about that. We have to accept these records ... . Everybody loves to target Flo Jo's records ... but let us say down the years we look at our own Usain Bolt, his records are similarly way ahead of the competition. Granted that he has been running fast from he was a little kid, but there are doubters in the world that seem to think that Jamaica has some magic potion given to Bolt, so what do we say to those people?"

Dr Blake, you say nothing to those people, sir; they are idiots! From childhood, several knowledgeable persons spotted unusual talent in Bolt. He covered the 200m in 19.93 as a teenager. Years later, he set a new world record for the event at 19.19. That is fantastic, but entirely within the realms of possibility given the signals down the years.

Flo Jo, on the other hand, has two world records over the 100m and 200m. But, unlike Bolt, she is more remembered for the suspicious, sudden changes leading up to these records.

 

MAIN AREA OF CONCERN

 

The main area of concern is the women's records from 100m to 800m. No athlete has been able to come even close to these records for 30 years. An interesting situation when one considers that between the end of WWII and 1985, the 800m record was broken 23 times. Although the women involved come from both sides of the Atlantic, they all have some things in common. Prior to these spectacular performances, they were fairly average in the times they were doing. Then overnight, late in their careers, they put on bulging muscles, grew beards and chest hair, their voices changed, and they developed rough skin and acne.

When Dr Blake says "everybody loves to target Flo Jo's records," that is why. And in response to his "nothing is ever proven statement," permit me to assist Dr Blake.

In order to push the idea of the superiority of communism, East Germany decided to use their athletes as a propaganda tool. Known officially as State Plan 14.25, performance-enhancing drugs were given to athletes - with or without their knowledge - some from as young as 10 years old.

On October 6, 1985, in Canberra, when Marita Koch of East Germany rocketed out of the blocks at the start of the 400m, everyone was shocked. When she kept this pace up for 150m, we all thought she would never finish the race. But she did - in a world record time of 47.60 secs. That record still stands.

 

EXTENSIVE EXAMINATION

 

When Brigitte Berendonk and Werner Franke carried out their extensive examination of East German secret police files for their book Doping-Dokumente, they found a letter from Koch to Jenapharm (the pharmaceutical company providing drugs to the athletes). It complained that Barbel Wockel, who won the European 200m title ahead of her in Athens in 1982, was being given stronger doses of the steroids because her uncle was president of Jenapharm. Stasi records show that Koch, the five-time Olympic sprint champion, received 970mg of Oral Turenobal in 1981.

She has this to say: "At the World Championships in Helsinki in 1983, I had to go to dope testing three times and always I was clean. The same applies to my career overall." Stasi records confirm, however, that East German athletes were tested before going into competition and those who tested positive were withdrawn as 'injured'. This programme proved devastating for thousands of athletes. Female athletes, including young girls, experienced virilisation (changes to male characteristics) symptoms. About 1,000 men and women suffered serious, permanent physical (miscarriages and ovarian cysts) and psychological damage.

Dr Blake remains virtually the only person in sports who thinks nothing has been proven. Those phoney women's records affect Jamaica more than any other country. The false-start rule affects only sprinters.

- Glenn Tucker is a former coach at Holmwood Technical High School. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and glenntucker2011@gmail.com.