Episode 121: Doping, Steroids, and Athletics

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

On this Sofa King Podcast, we explore the controversies surrounding doping and steroid use in athletics. We start our discussion with a look at the Tour De France. Starting in 1903, this six day race has been tied to doping and drug use since its very first year. As technology evolved, so did the dope: booze, ether, strychnine, cocaine, amphetamines, Pemoline, steroids, and EPO (Erythropoietin) blood cycling. Every era of this race was paralleled by an era of different drug use. As soon as one became problematic, or a test was developed for it, something new would be invented. In fact, the use of drugs in this race was so problematic that in the 1930s, race officials had to inform racers that amphetamines were not included as part of the race!

So, when Lance Armstrong was busted for doping 2012, this should have come as a surprise to nobody. In fact, the same investigation that brought down Armstrong concluded that 20 out of 21 podium finishers for a six year span all tested positive or were implicated in a doping scandal. This leads us to talk about the nature of the race. Should it exist? Is it possible for cyclists to even endure this race without dope and enhancements of some sort? Also, we discuss whether or not Armstrong should have had his titles taken from him if he was one of 20 champions who were doping.

Next we turn our attention to the Olympics. Well, we turn it to Russians and the Olympics. The Soviet Union started a long tradition of pumping dope and steroids into their athletes in the 1960s. The did also did this in East Germany for almost twenty years as part of State Plan 14.25. The Soviets and East Germans used the Olympic stage as part of their cold war victories in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, so winning medals at all cost was their mindset. By the 90s, however the Soviet Union had collapsed, and Russia took its place. Also, testing became worldwide by groups such as WADA, and the problem seemingly went way. Until the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

How did Russian Intelligence help to smuggle clean urine into the testing labs? How prevalent was this, and how many medals were taken away from Russian athletes after this was revealed. How did Putin’s government still engage in state sanctioned doping of their athletes, and how did it lead to 111 would-be Olympians being banned from the Rio Games in 2016? Listen, laugh, learn.

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