Smith true winner of ‘dirtiest race’ in history

Smith true winner of ‘dirtiest race’ in history

Ben Johnson of Canada (L) leads Calvin Smith of the U.S. (2nd L), Linford Christie of Britain (2nd R) and Carl Lewis of the U.S. (R) across the finish line to win the men's 100 meters sprint final at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, September 24, 1988. REUTERS/Pool

(Reuters) – If anti-doping regulations had been strictly enforced, Calvin Smith, a gifted American sprinter with a distinctive upright style, would have left the 1988 Seoul Games as the Olympic 100 meters champion and world-record holder.

On the day that changed the face of the Olympics and his sport forever, Smith finished fourth behind Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and Linford Christie. Today he is the only man among the first five finishers in Seoul untouched by a drugs scandal.

“I should have been the gold medalist,” Smith has said of a race that has been variously described as the dirtiest and most corrupt in history.

“Throughout the last five or 10 years of my career, I knew I was being denied the chance to show that I was the best clean runner,” he told journalists. “I knew I was competing against athletes who were on drugs.”

Canadian Johnson was infamously hustled out of Seoul after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol following his victory in a world-record 9.79 seconds.

Lewis, who clocked 9.92 seconds, was promoted to the gold medal ahead of Britain’s Christie who then took the silver in front of Smith. Lewis’s time was eventually recognized as the official world record when Johnson’s mark of 9.83 seconds, set at the 1987 Rome world championships, was also erased.

Johnson’s time in Rome was an astonishing tenth of a second faster than Smith’s then world record of 9.93 seconds set at altitude in 1983. Smith won consecutive world 200 meters titles but never a global 100 gold.

In the popular mythology of the time Lewis, a glorious sprinter and long jumper who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was the clean-cut hero and Johnson a scowling villain.

It was an image Lewis was keen to foster.

“In the old Westerns they had the guy in the white hat and the black hat,” Lewis said years later. “I felt like the clean guy going out and trying to win, I was the guy in the white hat, trying to beat this evil guy.”

Not everybody warmed to Lewis and his incessant self-promotion coupled with a holier-than-thou attitude to drugs offenders. The skeptics felt vindicated when it was revealed in 2003 that Lewis had failed three drugs tests for stimulants during the 1988 Olympic trials.

Under the rules of the time he should have been banned from the Games but the results were covered up by the U.S. Olympic Committee after it accepted his plea that he had innocently taken a herbal supplement.

Christie failed a test for the stimulant pseudoephedrine after the final but was cleared on a split decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) medical commission when he argued that he had taken it inadvertently in ginseng tea.

If Lewis had been banned from the Games and Christie disqualified, Smith would have been next in line for the gold medal and his world record would have stood once Johnson’s times were scrubbed from the books.

HEAVYWEIGHT FIGHT

The noise and furor at Seoul airport when Lewis and Johnson arrived for the Olympics resembled the frenzy associated with a world heavyweight prize fight featuring Muhammad Ali.

At the opening media conferences, Lewis was as articulate as always. Johnson, whose natural shyness was exacerbated by a stutter and an accent showing traces of both his native Jamaica and his adopted homeland, said little.

Johnson’s coach, the intense and ambitious Charlie Francis, was both fluent and relaxed while continuing to conceal an explosive back story which shocked the world when he revealed all to a Canadian government inquiry in the following year.

During the 1976 Montreal Games, Francis realized drugs were a vital ingredient in the East German success story and, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, formerly secret documents showed he was right.

Francis also knew that drugs, which allowed athletes to train harder and longer, were only one element in a sophisticated program but at the elite level, as he explained to Johnson, a one percent difference in performance meant a one-meter advantage in the 100 meters.

“Steroids could not replace talent, or training, or a well-planned competitive program,” Francis said. “They could not transform a plodder into a champion. But they had become an essential ingredient within a complex recipe.”

In Seoul there were those who thought a bigger cheat than Johnson had gone unscathed.

Florence Griffith-Joyner, who died 10 years after the Games at the age of 38, had been a glamorous and successful sprinter in the years leading up to Seoul but had always finished among the minor medals.

In 1988, her physique noticeably altered and her voice deepened dramatically, both signs of possible steroid abuse. “She sounds like Louis Armstrong,” exclaimed one journalist at her news conference in Seoul.

Of more enduring significance were the times she set in that unreal year. No woman, even 2000 Sydney Olympics triple champion Marion Jones who eventually confessed to years of systematic doping, has even come close to Griffith-Joyner’s times of 10.49 and 21.34 seconds for the 100 and 200 meters respectively.

Griffith-Joyner announced her retirement in 1989, the year mandatory random drugs test were introduced. Eleven women’s world records in Olympic events remain unchanged since the 1980s.

LOSS OF CREDIBILITY

Since Seoul, athletics, in general, and the sprints, in particular, have been battered by drugs scandals and the central sport of the Olympic Games has suffered increasingly in credibility as a result.

At the 2004 Athens Games, Justin Gatlin won the 100-200 double for the United States after serving a one-year ban following a positive test for amphetamines. The sentence had been halved when the world governing body accepted he had taken a prescribed medicine for attention deficit disorder.

Two years later he again tested positive, this time for excessive levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, and was banned for eight years, later reduced to four.

Gatlin worked with Trevor Graham, the coach who initiated a drugs scandal equivalent to the Johnson furor when he sent a syringe containing an undetectable steroid called THG to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

A test was quickly devised for the drug manufactured by the BALCO laboratory in California and a number of prominent athletes in track and field and baseball were implicated, including Britain’s European 100 meters champion Dwain Chambers.

Jones, who won three gold medals in Sydney after announcing she wanted to go one better than Lewis and Jesse Owens by winning five titles, was the biggest victim of the BALCO scandal.

After years of denial she finally confessed she had been on a drugs regime similar to Johnson and was imprisoned for lying to federal investigators. Other sprinters banned as a result of the BALCO investigations were her former partner Tim Montgomery, who was the first man to run faster than Johnson’s Seoul mark, and double world women’s sprint champion Kelli White.

To its credit, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has consistently uncovered drugs cheats over the 25 years since Seoul. It has also pointed out that other prominent Olympic sports, notably weightlifting and cycling, have been bedeviled by doping.

However, the positive tests keep coming and this year has been a bad one for the world of track and field.

Former 100 meters world-record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica and former world champion Tyson Gay from the United States both missed last month’s Moscow world championships after positive drugs tests which were revealed on the same day.

Jamaica, the Caribbean island which currently dominates world sprinting, was struck by another doping scandal when twice Olympic 200 meters gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown was suspended by her national federation after a positive test for a banned diuretic.

Officials said a dozen athletes had been sanctioned after positive drugs tests in the past five years.

Kenya, a country long regarded as a storehouse of natural long-distance talent, has also been implicated in doping with four positives in the space of 12 months. There has also been a rash of positive tests in Russia and Turkey.

Johnson, who is now an anti-doping campaigner after a lifetime of bad career choices, accepts his decision to take drugs ruined his life.

He said recently that athletes “are still testing positive week after week, still making the same mistakes I made. Athletes’ perceptions need to change. The system needs to change.”

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Best Hydration and Sports Mixes

for the rest of the list follow the link Best Hydration and Sports Mixes

osmo-preload-hydration

In the Heat: OSMO Preload Hydration

One serving contains 1,620 milligrams of sodium, so even the saltiest of sweaters can fend off cramps and perform well in the heat. Drink a bottle before bed and another 30 minutes before go time. Look for a new womens-specific Preload mix from OSMO this fall.
Tester says: “Salty, like the rim of a margarita! Tastes better ice-cold and with a squeeze of lime.”
60 calories/16-oz. serving, $25/10 servings

Can Spray-on Caffeine Help Your Running?

Can Spray-on Caffeine Help Your Running?

SprayableEnergy

Product to be released in November; some experts are dubious.

Picture this pre-run routine: You slip on shorts and a shirt, wrestle with knee-high compression socks as if pulling on panty hose, then finish with a spritz of caffeinated-water on your neck.

This fall, two entrepreneurs are releasing a topical caffeine spray they’re callingSprayable Energy. The product’s solution—water, caffeine and an amino acid derivative—is applied like perfume and absorbed through the skin. Four sprays, the recommended dose, is roughly equivalent to one cup of coffee, but because it’s absorbed slowly, it provides a steady stream of energy, rather the jolt and drop of caffeinated drinks, according to its creators Ben Yu and Deven Soni.

The pair, who are both recreational runners, set out to develop a product for people who can’t stomach coffee or who get the jitters from caffeine. They say Sprayable Energy is for anyone looking for quick, convenient, calorie-free energy, including college students, overworked executives, and athletes.

“It really helps me going on long runs, since the key breakthrough with our product is that it permeates the skin and enters at a steady rate,” says Yu, 21, who dropped out of Harvard to become a Thiel Fellow. “[It] has really allowed me to stay consistent and maintain my pace without premature exhaustion.”

Yu believes the product is ideal for runners “because Sprayable Energy goes straight from the skin to the circulation, we bypass the GI tract entirely, so it’s perfect for those people whose stomachs can’t currently handle the energy products out there.”

But can the body really absorb caffeine through the skin?

Yu says a number of studies show that, yes, caffeine is transdermal. He and Soni developed Sprayable Energy with the assistance of Chongxi Yu, Ph.D., (Yu’s father), a chemist whose work has focused on how substances can be better absorbed by the skin. Sprayable Energy’s own tests have found that four sprays deliver enough caffeine into the bloodstream to be effective, the developers say.

But some experts are dubious.

“Where is the research paper stating this?” asks Terry Graham, Ph.D., professor in the Human Health and Nutritional Sciences department at the University of Guelph, Ontario, who has participated in multiple studies on caffeine, health and athletic performance. “The product sounds interesting, but why would you not test it thoroughly before providing it to a naive public?”

Graham adds that nicotine and estrogen patches work, and that in theory, caffeine can be absorbed through the skin too. But, as with other substances, the absorption rate is very slow.

“Frankly, I would be shocked if you could spray on and absorb enough to create an increase in blood caffeine,” he says.

Trent Stellingwerff, Ph.D., lead researcher at the Canadian Sport Institute in British Columbia, says the only time he has seen slow-release caffeine work is in studies on sleep deprivation. While there’s robust research on caffeine and performance, Stellingwerff says, he is unaware of any research that compares slow-release with normal caffeine intake head to head.

“Without seeing blood caffeine data associated with this product (I immediately looked for this on their website), it is impossible for me to make any judgment on this product other than it is probably a great placebo effect,” says Stellingwerff.

Graham adds that the creators seem like smart guys who have thought out the concept, but he’s puzzled by the lack of scientific transparency.

He suggests that athletes looking to avoid ingesting caffeine might be better off with caffeinated gum and candy.

“Holding these in the mouth would result, in theory, in absorption via the lining of the mouth, a much more efficient tissue for absorption than the skin,” says Graham. Rinsing your mouth with a caffeine drink, then spitting it out, also provides quick energy, according to new research, though not a steady stream of caffeine.

Sports dietician and Runner’s World Fuel School columnist Pamela Nisevich Bede, M.S., R.D., favors coffee over spray-on caffeine because the classic drink offers more than a performance boost.

“Coffee provides lots of potassium as well as antioxidants so if the runner skips coffee, they’re missing these nutrients,” she says.

But, she adds, when compared to energy drinks, which can have unhealthy additives, she sees the spray-on concept as a viable option.

All three experts raised concerns about dosage. Caffeine is a stimulant and can be harmful in large amounts. “Will the high school runner be careful and not spray on too much?” asks Graham.

Yu and Soni say their product is “very safe,” but caution against using it with other caffeine sources.

Sprayable Energy will be available via the company website and in select markets in November.

Carnitine’s Sports Value More than Just Energy Production

Carnitine’s Sports Value More than Just Energy Production

Carnitine is an important sports nutrition compound due to its role in energy production, but its consequential benefits to cardiovascular health and function may also help improve exercise performance and recovery.

 L-carnitine helps transport fatty acids into the inner mitochondria for use in energy production. Only certain cells use fatty acids for energy production—a process called beta-oxidation—with cells in skeletal and cardiac muscle among the top users of fatty acids for energy.

Early research of carnitine for sports nutrition looked at its metabolic mechanism in skeletal muscle, as fatty acids are a primary energy source in endurance exercise, but studies were conflicting on whether carnitine levels increased in the muscles and enhanced performance, including VO2max. Newer hypotheses focus on carnitine’s effects on oxidative stress and vascular function.

Exercise can increase free radicals and lipid peroxidation in the blood, and increase oxidative stress and risk of tissue damage in skeletal muscle. This oxidative condition can persist for days following muscle-damaging exercise.

Researchers from University of Connecticut Human Performance Research Laboratory have studied L-carnitine on muscle stress and damage, finding reduced oxidative stress and subsequent damage in muscles. Searching for a mechanism behind carnitine’s impact on post-exercise metabolic and hypoxic stress, the researchers homed in on enhanced oxygen consumption, which reduced muscle oxygenation in their study.

Other researchers have found hypoxia-mediating mechanisms in carnitine’s effect on vascular function, including vasodilation leading to improved blood flow. It appears vascular muscle cells prefer fatty acid oxidation for energy, and decreased carnitine can curtail blood flow.

Recognizing all the potential benefits of increased general energy production on training and performance, a deeper look at carnintine in muscle and vascular cells reveals a deeper roster of benefits that could help athletes get the most out of their workouts and improve recovery from rigorous exercise. This offers an expanding potential market for carnitine supplementation.

Tyler Hamilton a Cheat but his story must be heard ~ exclusive interview

Tyler Hamilton a Cheat but his story must be heard ~ exclusive interview

It has been an exciting week at the 9th annual Discovery Vitality Summit in Sandton. This summit hosts some of the most intellectual, influential and controversial people as well as topics that help shape our thoughts and understandings on health, wellness, performance and longevity as human beings. Over the years covering this event I have heard the human polar bear, Lewis Plugh, share his incredible journey. I have heard Jake White reveal his secret to winning the Rugby World Cup and I have even seen a panel of highly qualified and respected professors and academics fight it out over high fat – low carb diets. It was one of the most entertaining verbal punch-ups I have ever seen. What has been a highlight this year was listening to, and then interviewing, public villain and cyclist Tyler Hamilton.

Tyler from a young age started out not in cycling but as a skier, training hard and competing in the hope of turning professional one day. A serious accident on the slopes in 1991 left him with two cracked vertebra’s and his dreams shattered. Without having any formal training, he decided to try cycling and took to the bike like a moth to flame because he soon found out that he was an absolute natural at it and had a secret weapon that few riders possessed, a high pain threshold.

In three short years he climbed to ranks of the cycling fraternity and started making a name for himself as a young rider. The adrenalin of climbing the ladder so fast kept him hungry for the next big race and ultimately an eye on a victory at the Tour De France. Then one little red pill from his team doctor changed his life forever.

That little red pill was a performance enhancing testosterone booster to help him recover faster from a previous race which left him physically drained. This would not be the last in the experiment with illegal drugs. Tyler moved onto EPO through injections and ultimately found the mother-ship of all drugs according to Tyler, blood doping. This is the process of drawing blood from your body then re-infusing it back into your own body weeks later before a race. Blood carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and by increasing your red blood cells, which allow more oxygen to be delivered to the muscles, and gives a huge performance edge or unfair advantage in endurance sports like running, swimming, cycling, triathlons and iron-man.

According to Tyler, there was such a culture of blood doping amongst cyclists and an unspoken brotherhood that everyone knew that everyone else was doping, but no one spoke about it.

The question still remains: why should a villain like Tyler Hamilton be forgiven for cheating? Why should he be allowed to attend an event like the Summit, to tell his story, and why should we feel sorry for him? He cheated, deceived millions of fans who put their faith and trust in him and he brought his sport of cycling into disrepute. The mere fact that everyone else was doing it, and the mentality of“eat or be eaten” applied, shows that even though Tyler was guilty, he alone should not be taking the brunt of the dirty sport. Tyler even today believes the sport is not clean and some of the speeds, climbs and times are very questionable. He did advocate however that the sport is now cleaner but still has a long way to go.

I will give Tyler credit for making his story public. He is not a hero by any means for doing so, but the story, and take home message, needs to be told. You try and stand up on a stage, month after month and tell hundreds, if not thousands of people that you were one of the biggest cheats in history and see how you cope with it. “The truth will set you free”, Tyler says, “and the more I can share my story, the more I can help others to make better choices in their own lives”.

There will come a point in time in every sportsmen career, where you will be presented with, in some form or another, a red pill and you will have to make a hard choice. To join a life where success doesn’t feel like success, you are constantly looking over your shoulder, fearful of getting caught and living with the stench of guilt that doesn’t seem to go away, or, keeping it clean and being able to look in the mirror knowing that the person you see is a person that did it all himself.

It almost seems that Tyler’s life was destined for high pain. His accident on the slopes, his rise and fall from glory and now the pain and humiliation he has to go through each time in sharing his story in persuading others to make better choices in their sporting lives. I don’t condone that it was right and I don’t feel sorry for him, but I do believe that his life was not designed not to be ordinary. Instead of taking one step off a cliff which would be the easy pill to swallow, he has taken a much harder and painful journey in teaching and sharing his story with as many people who are willing to listen. No victory is worth it unless done with a clear conscience. And this Tyler can vouch for.

Why Can’t Science Keep Up With Sports Doping?

for full article click link Why Can’t Science Keep Up With Sports Doping?

Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees star third baseman, is one of 13 major league baseball players charged with taking performance-enhancing drugs and, in some cases, lying about the matter to investigators. Major League Baseball (MLB) announced it would suspend the players for 50 games or more. Rodriguez will miss 211 games, but may appeal the decision.

The primary evidence implicating the players in doping was testimony from Anthony Bosch, who ran a now-defunct chemical anti-aging company in Florida called Biogenesis. Last year, after being granted immunity by MLB from any legal proceedings, he admitted that he had supplied restricted substances to the athletes in question.

Yet there were no test results that backed up the claim. And that raises the question: Why not?

Professional athletes are tested regularly for performance-enhancing substances, but baseball players have never been tested as intensively as runners, cyclists, and some other athletes. Baseball players must take a simple urine test at the start of every season and then at one random time during play. More extensive blood tests that can detect more complex substances are conducted only with reasonable cause.

MLB officials have said that it’s logistically challenging to test players because they are frequently on the road. Even randomly timed tests aren’t so random: Players generally know to expect a “surprise” test at their home stadium in the second half of the season—the time when incentives to dope are the greatest.

Even for Fastest Riders, New Doping Questions Are Never Far Behind

Even for Fastest Riders, New Doping Questions Are Never Far Behind

PARIS — Chris Froome, crowned the Tour de France winner on Sunday, was being peppered at a recent news conference with questions that furtively nibbled at a bigger issue — have you doped? — when his team director leapt into the fray, bubbling with frustration.
The team of the Tour de France winner Chris Froome released doping test results and performance data to the news media.
“We’ve racked our brains thinking about ways we can satisfy people and make these questions go away,” said Dave Brailsford, the Sky Procycling team principal. “Why don’t you collectively get organized and you tell me what we could do so you wouldn’t have to ask the question?”

Whether one viewed Brailsford’s offer as cynical or sincere, there was an undeniable truth underlying his point: there really is no hard and fast mechanism by which cyclists can prove that they are not using banned substances. Testers can be fooled. Pledges can be broken.

Even when teams release doping test results and performance data to independent physiologists and journalists, as Sky did last week with information from several of Froome’s races, no one can say definitively that cyclists are not using prohibited substances.

There are no perfect tests capable of catching every banned substance every time. Moreover, human physiology is so complex, and medical science’s understanding of its bounds so limited, that drawing a line between an exceptional but clean performance and a drug-enhanced performance is a tricky, arguably impossible, proposition.

The sports scientists and the journalists who analyzed Froome’s data carefully put it this way: the rider’s performances were in the realm of the humanly possible. And that was the best Froome and Sky could hope for.

“Basically, it is to say these performances were very good, strong, clean sporting performances,” Froome said.

Yet no one believes the questions will stop, if only because Froome is capable of exceptional performances — as when he left the Tour field behind on a climb in the Pyrenees, recording speeds and power that rivaled riders in the doping years. Even Froome has acknowledged that the doping questions, while disheartening, are legitimate in the post-Lance Armstrong era.

Jonathan Vaughters, a former rider who admitted to doping years ago and is now an antidoping advocate as team manager of Garmin-Sharp, said the sport had lost credibility. Until that changes, he said, the top riders will be asked questions that they can never satisfactorily answer.

“If you took a hypothetical situation where everyone knew that the antidoping controls were 100 percent effective, then these questions wouldn’t be asked,” Vaughters said. “And it wouldn’t be placed on Chris Froome.”

Vaughters argues that the onus for cleaning up the sport’s image should lie not with individual riders or even teams, but with its governing body, the International Cycling Union. The union points out that its testing program has been strengthened significantly, and many critics agree. But those critics, including Vaughters, say the union should take the additional step of ceding responsibility for testing to a fully independent agency.

The union’s president, Pat McQuaid, opposes that idea, but a challenger for leadership of the organization, Brian Cookson, has endorsed it.

Even a change in leadership would be only a start, Vaughters said. “This is a long war, and this isn’t going to resolve itself with one or two definitive actions,” he added. “Re-establishing credibility is incredibly hard. Losing it is easy.”

Like Froome, other riders in the peloton say they understand the skepticism about their performances. But they are also frustrated by their inability to put the questions to rest.

Andrew Talansky, an American rookie in the Tour this year with Garmin-Sharp, said he hoped some middle ground would emerge between blind faith and equally blind skepticism.

“If you want to look at it with a skeptical eye and say, ‘O.K., I see a performance that I don’t 100 percent believe in,’ that’s fine,” Talansky said. “As long as there’s room in there for people to eventually see that the performances they are witnessing in the Tour are real.”

Yet for some, such faith is just not possible anymore. They say they have seen too many doping scandals that were followed by promises for a cleaner day but instead gave way to new scandals. That is why some scientists and cycling journalists have taken it upon themselves to try to police the sport independently, and from afar, with whatever scientific data they can obtain.

Those watchdogs acknowledge that their methods are imperfect, and they do their best to avoid actually accusing anyone of doping. But in a world where there are no perfect tests, and where teams are reluctant to release physiological data about their athletes, the watchdogs’ long-distance monitoring is crucial, they say.

“The value of the process is not to look for that definitive answer; it’s to interrogate the performances critically,” said Ross Tucker, a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town in South Africa who evaluates cycling performances on sportsscientists.com.

Scientific skeptics including Tucker say they believe cycling has been cleaned up significantly in recent years, as evidenced by slower times up big mountains. But some of Froome’s dominant climbs in this year’s Tour raised eyebrows anew.

By the same logic, Froome’s stumbles have served to bolster his case that he is clean. While chasing other riders on the second ascent of Alpe d’Huez last week, he “bonked,” as riders put it when they have low blood sugar. As a consequence, he slowed to eat an energy gel and lost time. “Froome today definitely looked like a regular guy,” Tucker said in an e-mail after the stage.

It is perhaps that human side that fans come to see when they crowd the roadsides of rural France each year, doping clouds notwithstanding. Anyone can ride a bike, those fans will tell you. But to do it over 21 stages, more than 2,100 miles and 2 mountain ranges requires not just superb conditioning but an ability to endure suffering on a Homeric scale. To the most ardent among them, it is a form of poetry.

Michael Barratt, for one, still keeps the faith. “If they haven’t been caught, then they’re not on dope,” Barratt, a plumber from near Yorkshire, England, said while waiting for Froome to start his climb up Mont Ventoux last week. “I’m pretty black and white about it.”

And if they test positive? “Well, then they’re lying,” Barratt said, finishing his sentence with a word that could not be printed. “But it won’t spoil the sport for me.”