Three questions about doping

18 January 2013

Ilona Slupianek in 1977, shortly before she was suspended for using anabolic steroids.

Ilona Slupianek in 1977, shortly before she was suspended for using anabolic steroids.

When I was a kid, watching the Olympics held a weird fascination/vexation due to the question of doping. I was quite young, yet I don’t think anyone questioned the fact that some of those scary, huge Soviet bloc women were doping. Not just because some of them had been caught and suspended, but because their bodies were just so improbable. Am I misremembering? Or did, in fact, doping appear as part of ordinary conversations at the time?

Second question: did anyone assume, naturally, that Western athletes would also engage in doping as part of an athletic arms race to keep up with the communist threat?

Or did U.S. nationalism entail such blindness that we insisted our athletes would never cheat?

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7 Responses to “Three questions about doping”


  1. There does seem to be ” a race to innocence” specifically around US athletes that has never held true.

  2. fitzg Says:

    Yes, Didion. And in the usual media stampede to excoriate yet another idol of clay feet, (who certainly does NOT excude the vibrations of a NICE man), what is the media currently ignoring? What about, not just the culpibility of many of his colleagues, professional staff/medical/ the sporting org itself?

    • Didion Says:

      I figure officials will always be behind the curve when it comes to new advances in doping. And yet the public seems to want ever more extraordinary feats. Can we be satisfied if our sprinters are slower than in the past? If our baseball players hit fewer home runs? or will we run to those sports where new, incredible accomplishments fly fast & furious?

  3. Servetus Says:

    My memory is that the discussion was always — *those* athletes take drugs, but *our* athletes are so good they can beat them even without drugs. Which proves how great democracy is.

    • Didion Says:

      I think that’s right. God, I would pay money to find some journalist in the 70s/80s who asked this question out loud and investigated.


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