Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DDR Leben

This is East German swimmer Kornelia Ender. Fraulein Ender was the surprise of the 1976 Olympics winning four gold medals and breaking four world records (and sang a mean baritone from what I hear). She beat America's best, Shirley Babashoff in all but the 400 meter relay. Leading up to the games Babashoff had been hyped as the female Mark Spitz but ended up second time and again. Although it has been proven beyond question the East Germans were doping, the I.O.C. has never taken any action. Last I heard Babashoff was a mail carrier in California.

It seems we now have a Chinese phenom at the Olympics, Ye Shiwen. She broke the world record by a full second and her personal best by an incredible five seconds. She is faster than gold medalist Ryan Lochte. Not too shabby.

So, what are we to make of this? The Chinese weren't even on the radar until twenty years ago when they won four golds at the '92 Olympics and then 12 of 16 at the '94 World Championships. After these amazing performances there was a slight problem, they got busted for dihydrotestosterone. They've been viewed as cheats ever since, and with all those expatriated East German coaches hanging around justifiably so. If Ye ain't juicing I'll eat my hat.

Doping has been a problem for forty years now. There's only one sport I'm aware of that doesn't have these issues and that is soccer. FIFA has a zero tolerance policy and you can get yourself a two year suspension for testing positive for marijuana; hard drugs and you're finished. It's time the I.O.C. got off the dime and started enforcing their own rules. Doping can kill a sport, and with all the politics and professionals and all the other problems with the Olympics, they don't need this kind of trouble. And we don't need hopped up cheaters ruining everything.  

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