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Roid Rage: The paradoxes of pharmacological puritanism in sport

Lecture for 'Drugs Across Cultures' 6 June 2014

Greg Downey

on 23 May 2017

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Transcript of Roid Rage: The paradoxes of pharmacological puritanism in sport

relationship of culture to the nervous system
how do cultural forms of training affect development?
sports as a model for thinking about all training
Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals
Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs
Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown
'performance enhancing drugs'
Homerun Record Chase 1998
‘I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during
the steroid era
androstenedione or 'andro'
Ball-and-stick model of the Androstenedione molecule C19H26O2.
steroid hormone produced in adrenal gland
precursor to sex hormones, including testosterone
Thomas Hicks, 1904 gold medalist in marathon, received strychnine injection.
During 6-day bicycle races, riders sometimes hallucinated from fatigue, champagne & nitroglycerine as PED.
very little moral concern about use of PES.
authorities recommended alcohol, koala nut, purified oxygen, tobacco...
some reporters even lamented when they thought athletes needed them.
Alberto Contador (& Floyd Landis) stripped of Tour de France titles
Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan arrested with HGH by customs in Perth, 1998.
Chris Benoit, WWE
Vince McMahon, owner WWE
Japanese swimmers in 1932 had unexpected victories after receiving pure oxygen before races.
German athletes in the 1936 Olympics were given amphetamines, as was Hitler (up to 8x/day).
British military used 72 million doses of amphetamines.
the East German Olympic team (GDR)
1960s to 1980s
population 16 million
given to 10,000 athletes
160 gold medals
Manfred Ewald
Heidi Kreiger
I didn't know any more who I was. The pills accelerated any transsexual tendencies I may already have had. I wasn't able to identify with my body anymore and that led me to undergo a sex change. (quoted in Kettmann 2000b)
‘We are here to swim, not to sing.’
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): ‘doping is fundamentally against the ethos of the spirit of the Olympic Games: the fair play. Many of the prohibited substances and methods are harmful to athletes' health and can cause short and long-term damage.’
short history of performance enhancing drugs in sport

The 'wonder girls' in Montreal 1976
‘a large-scale animal experiment on living people’
Wolf Biermann
‘It's terrifying what they did to us. I took up to 30 pills a day. They always told us they were vitamins. There was no question you would not take them. You had to play by the rules. We were vehicles chosen to prove that socialism was better than capitalism. What happened to our bodies was entirely secondary to that political mission led by [Manfred] Ewald.’
Carola Beraktschjan
Situation today?
a paradoxical pharmacological puritanism
More significantly, scientific training regimes are now the norm in all world-class sport, with support staffs outnumbering coaches, and centres of excellence taking on children at a younger and younger age. The goal may have changed from glorifying the state to making a profit, but the methodology remains worryingly familiar.
(Carlson 2002)
Ewald's obituary in The Guardian
Ed Holovchik [aka Ed Fury], bodybuilder and Mr. Los Angeles contestant with model Jackie Coey, 1953
'Steroid vacations'
Michael Dorn strikes a bodybuilder pose in a Pattaya street.
Steroid use in Australia
paradox of a
'performance enhancing drug' with no performance ('image enhancing')
one of fastest growing drugs in Australia: 2013-4 was 33.5% higher than 2012-13. (In Queensland, 200% increase since 2008.)
Postal seizures (but increased domestic production).
Users: bodybuilders (50%?), security, 18yo men, police....
2011, bodybuilder Aziz ''Zyzz'' Shavershian, died of ''undiagnosed'' heart condition in a Bangkok sauna.
Drugs available & cheap in Thailand & other thinly regulated markets, such as
a powerful veterinary grade steroid.
'Andropause' - medicalisation of normal aging?
HGH for short children?
Kareem, 80-year-old Canadian bodybuilder in 2009
forcing our bodies to conform to our distorted ideals
next semester:
Human evolution & diversity (Anth 151)
Kornelia Ender
NOTE: I am
saying that these people have USED steroids.
Point is that our expectations have changed!

To us, because of changes in diet, supplements, workout, techniques to get 'shredded' (including diuretics)...

A bodybuilder from 1953
no longer looks like a bodybuilder
to us. (Neither would the actress in the picture get a callback today...)

Photos of East German athletes that once looked shocking now look unremarkable.
Lance Armstrong (7x Tour de France winner) stripped of titles and banned, 2012
Ongoing investigation (2014) on Essendon Bombers' & other teams' use of PES, including peptides.
in 2007, at 60 years old, Sylvester Stallone arrested in Sydney International Airport with vials of HGH (human growth hormone), charged with importing controlled substance.
East German coach in response to another coach pointing out the East German women swimmers' deep voices.
andro devised by the East German doctors as a 'bridging drug' to maintain steroid-induced growth until competition, after steroids discontinued to avoid testing positive.
on the one hand, a demand for constant improvement, high stakes & massive technology...
on the other hand, higher standards than for the general public.
On the one hand, attempt to instill fear in athletes of risks...

on the other, assumption that athletes should do everything in their power to succeed, including run risks.
recent news reports on IV drug injection rooms in Gold Coast, originally created to fight spread of HIV in addicts, now being used by body-builders.
largest category of users: clinics 'now overrun with muscly young men.'
Needle exchange programs report dramatic increase in steroid use in Queensland, by Elise Worthington, ABC News.
Rising prescription of testosterone to middle-aged and older men.
Number of prescriptions tripled since 2001.
One-quarter of men prescribed testosterone had never been blood tested for natural testosterone level.
'Aging is associated with bad vision, bad hearing, bad teeth, bad arteries, bad joints and cancer, and we treat all of these things. I think it’s an unfair stretch to say that because something is common or natural that we shouldn’t treat it.'
Dr. Abraham Morgentaler
Author, Testosterone for Life
St. Louis
Cronulla Sharks peptide scandal (CJC-1295) leads to 14 players suspended in 2014.
Paradox: Strive as hard as you can for athletic excellence, use every technique EXCEPT substances we know work...
So many advantages, why is THIS one so reprehensible that it can disgrace, even destroy, players?
But aren't they DANGEROUS?
Easy to point to these users and say they are 'illegitimate.'
Gerard Butler, after/before training for
Hugh Jackman
Henry Cavill v Christopher Reeve as Superman
Chris Helmsworth bulked up to play Thor
The point is shifting expectations.
NOTE: Actors in photos show what other actors are up against!
NOT accused or admitted users of PED.
Dwayne Johnson
Studios now aware of potential scandal.
Pope, Jr. Harrison G., Roberto Olivardia, Amanda Gruber, and John Borowiecki. 1998 “Evolving Ideals of Male Body Image as Seen Through Action Toys. International Journal of Eating Disorders 26(1) 65-72.
A 2012 study in Minnesota found 6% of teenage boys reported steroid use.
Drugs have helped to produce a shift in cultural expectations...
... even those who do not use are affected.


James Bond, then & now
Full transcript