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Archive for  August 2008

Saturday 23, Aug 2008

MMA’s Antonio Silva disproves steroid use

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Antonio Silva steroidsMixed martial arts heavyweight champion Antonio Silva pleads innocence to steroid use allegations. The allegations stemmed from the California State Athletic Commission’s release of Silva’s doping results on Thursday.

According to the CSAC, the fighter’s urinalysis showed traces of the anabolic steroid boldenone. The test was conducted during the Brazilian’s bout against Justine Eilers at the EliteXC card on July 26. As a result, Silva was immediately suspended for one year and fined $2,500.

Alex Davis, Silva’s manager, is planning to contest the disciplinary action and to request a hearing before NSAC.

“It’s a false positive. He got tested positive for something he didn’t take,” said Davis from his home outside Rio de Janeiro. “I will not let my fighter sit back and be wronged like this. I just won’t.”

In a statement, Silva also denied he committed any wrongdoing. “I did not use the steroid Boldenone, or any other steroid of prohibited substance. I don’t agree and never have agreed with the use of this kind of product in order to win, for this is cheating. I will go to the full extent of my power and the law to prove my innocence in this matter.”

Boldenone is an anabolic steroid approved for veterinary use only. Equipoise is one of the popular brand names of boldenone which is used mainly to treat conditions of horses, such as injury and diseases. This steroid also reportedly improves the well-being of horses as it increases protein synthesis.

According to Sherdog.com, Silva has been denied licensure in the state of California in June 2007 because “an abnormal brain scan of the athlete showed signs of a tumor.” Silva reportedly suffers from the condition known as acromegaly, which causes enlargement of the extremities and face due to an overactive pituitary gland. The 6-foot-4 Brazilian underwent medical treatment two months later to surgically remove the tumor and fought three times since.

Friday 22, Aug 2008

Which plays a bigger role in sports – genetics or steroids?

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Victor Conte steroidsFormer BALCO boss Victor Conte has hinted in his letter to the New York Daily News that the sporting world should take a closer look on athletes originating from the Caribbean. Conte says that countries like Jamaica and other Caribbean nations do not have independent anti-doping federations and practice “minimal offseason testing” and, therefore, are of suspect of using steroids. An excerpt from Conte’s letter:

I have no evidence of doping by any of the winners of medals in Beijing, but when times begin falling like rain, questions arise, especially when the record-setters are from countries such as Jamaica and other Caribbean nations….

Conte mentions that in the women’s 100-meter event four of the eight finalists were from the region and Jamaican athletes took the 1-2-3 places in said event with Shelly-Ann Fraser taking home the gold.

He also mentions Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson who won the gold and silver medal in the 100 meters respectively. Conte describes Bolt’s victory as “a shocking world-record time of 9.69, which is almost unbelievable since he shut it down before the finish line.”

Conte might know the top-secret protocol of doping; however, could he be totally right to hint that these personalities should be under a cloud of suspicion, as he puts it, because of possible use of performance-enhancing drugs?

In the ongoing Olympics, it’s obvious that the track is being dominated by athletes of African ancestry. And if you’re going to mention preeminent figures in Olympic sprinting and running events you’re going to come up with names like Marion Jones, Michael Johnson, Khalid Khannouchi, Donovan Bailey and Maurice Greene. These athletes have one common denominator – their ancestral origin is Africa.

Jon Entine in his The Story Behind the Amazing Success of Black Athletes offers an explanation to this phenomenon and it is not, in any way, connected with steroids.

Genetically linked, highly heritable characteristics such as skeletal structure, the distribution of muscle fiber types, reflex capabilities, metabolic efficiency, lung capacity, and the ability to use energy more efficiently are not evenly distributed among populations and cannot be explained by known environmental factors.

Although scientists are just beginning to isolate the genetic links to those biologically-based differences, it is indisputable that they exist. Each sport demands a slightly different mix of biomechanical, anaerobic, and aerobic abilities. Athletes from each region of the world tend to excel in specific events as a result of evolutionary adaptations to extremely different environments that became encoded in the genes.

Genes, it seems, play major role in on one’s athletic performance. This is why, the article says, whites of European ancestry dominate sports like weightlifting, wrestling, shot-put and hammer. People of this race have “on average, more natural upper-body strength” because they have the mesomorphic body type which such events require – large and muscular, particularly in the upper of the body, with relatively short arms and legs and thick torsos.

This body structure is proving to be an advantage in sports where strength rather than speed is the winning asset.”

East Asians, on the other hand, are a presence in diving, gymnastics and figure skating because they tend to be small and more flexible.

On black athletes Entine says that “there are a range of structural traits shared by genetically-diverse African athletes: low body fat, longer legs in comparison to the rest of their bodies, and narrow hips.”

Here are some of the characteristics enumerated by Entine that explain why black athletes, particularly of West African descent, monopolize the Olympic track today.

•    relatively less subcutaneous fat on arms and legs and proportionately more lean body and muscle mass, broader shoulders, larger quadriceps, and bigger, more developed musculature in general;
•    denser, shallower chests;
•    higher center of gravity, generally shorter sitting height, narrower hips, and lighter calves;
•    longer arm span and “distal elongation of segments” – the hand is relatively longer than the forearm, which in turn is relatively longer than the upper arm; the foot is relatively longer than the tibia (leg), which is relatively longer than the thigh;
•    a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscles and more anaerobic enzymes, which can translate into more explosive energy.

Friday 22, Aug 2008

KJ Noon’s camp will not beat EliteXC’s deadline

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kj-noons-steroidsIn sports like MMA, a career plan is better than a fight plan. This seems to be the belief of Mark Dion, KJ Noons’ manager.

EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw has issued a 5 p.m. PT deadline for Noons’ camp to sign a bout agreement to face off again with Nick Diaz on an Oct.4 CBS broadcast. Dion isn’t submitting to Shaw’s demands.

“The update on [the deadline] is nothing is going to happen with it,” Dion said. “That’s what’s going to happen with that. I don’t care about how many threats [Shaw] wants to pull. We’ll be doing a press conference if EliteXC doesn’t see the light here pretty soon and if Shaw doesn’t stop talking [expletive].”

Noons already beat Diaz and, in Dion’s opinion, fighting it out again with Diaz will accomplish little for Noons, if at all.

“As far as Nick Diaz, he’s not the No. 1 contender out there,” Dion said. “To [EliteXC] he is. He’s the number one (for getting) eyeballs to (watch) them. They’re pushing on eyeballs versus a career move for a champion like KJ. KJ is really not the one who gets anything out of the fight. Diaz does and so does ProElite.”

The two camps are unlikely to see eye to eye – Shaw hints that Noons and Dion’s stance has something to do with contract and pay and Dion, meanwhile, points out the core of the issue is the choice of opponent.

To Dion, his fighter is now the reigning lightweight champion and that position can issue its own demands. Noons is now primed to fight for recognition and that comes only if he’s offered to be pitted against the best EliteXC can offer says Dion.

“I would think Eddie Alvarez is the No. 1 contender,” Dion said. “He’s definitely ranked higher than Nick Diaz. KJ already beat Nick Diaz.”

Alvarez, however, is taking a personal time off and is currently unavailable. Dion feels that is not the reason behind the plan matchup between Noons and Diaz.

“Eddie Alvarez is getting married, but that’s not our problem,” Dion said. “People get married in five or 10 minutes.”

Dion says if the situation is not patched up soon, he will hold a press conference to bring everything out in the open.

“We’ll do a press conference to discuss everything,” Dion said. “But there’s nothing in it for KJ unless [EliteXC] finally wakes up a little bit. That’s why we’ll have a press conference. I don’t like to talk and beat a company that’s already beat down. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully they’ll see the light.”

That press con can be the venue to explain some issues but, in the meantime, Dion likes to shed some light on his role in the negotiation process.

“I don’t bend over for nobody, and I don’t let my fighters do it,” Dion said. “I’m not a booking agent. I don’t book my fighters and schmooze deals to work for the promoters. I work for my fighters.”

And as for the EliteXC organization, the manager wants to send this message across: “Forget 5 o’clock,” Dion said. “I ain’t waiting until 5 o’clock. If [EliteXC officials] are holding their breath, then someone’s going to pass out.”

Friday 22, Aug 2008

Ohuruogu’s Olympic gold tarnished by missed steroid tests

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Christine Ohuruogu SteroidsBritish printer Christine Ijeoma Ohuruogu should have been touted as heroine back in her homeland, but that is not the case. Her triumphs in the track are overshadowed by her three – yes, not one but three – missed doping tests.

Her missed doping tests calls for the question: Did she win the Olympic gold through legitimate means?

Ohuruogu, who specializes in the 400 meters, is currently the most successful and probably the most notorious track athlete in Great Britain today. She currently holds the Commonwealth, World and Olympic titles in said event. That’s some accomplishment for a girl of 24 years, yet the Britons are having second thoughts of raining praises on Ohuruogu. Many ask: Does she deserve to be the poster girl for the 2012 Summer Games London.

Based on the accounts of several newspapers in her homeland the answer to that big Q could be a big NO. One British newspaper has the headline “New golden girl Christine Ohuruogu will be forever tarnished”, which sort of sums up the public’s image of the track champ.

Ohuruogu beat the favorite Sanya Richards of the USA with her time of 49.62 making the Nigerian-born Ohuruogo as the first British woman to top the event and only the fourth to earn a gold medal on the track. But, still there are the three missed doping tests.  The Times provides details of those missed tests.

Ohuruogu missed three random drug tests between October 2005 and July 2006. Athletes have to say where they will be for an hour every day for five days a week; a UK Sport tester can then turn up at the allotted place unannounced.

After the third missed test, Ohuruogu received a one-year ban from the International Association of Athletics Federations, athletics’ governing body, and had her British Sport Lottery funding stopped. She took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but it upheld the ban while stating that there had been “no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs” and that “this case can be viewed in all the circumstances as a busy young athlete being forgetful”.

Ohuruogu was also banned for life from the Olympics because of a British Olympic Association bylaw barring anyone with a doping conviction from representing Britain. Ohuruogu completed her one-year exile only three weeks before the World Championships in Japan last year, where she made a remarkable comeback by winning the 400 metres. She then overturned her BOA ban on appeal. The independent Sports Dispute Resolutions Panel agreed that there had been significant mitigating circumstances.

Her reason for missing the second test was that she was at home finishing an article for a charity newspaper when she should have been at Northwick Park, North London. Ohuruogo said she spoke to the tester, who told her she was allowed to wait for only an hour, when it would have taken the athlete 90 minutes to make the trip.

The final straw came when she was not at the Mile End stadium when a tester turned up. “We went to train at Mile End but there was a school sports day so we made a last-minute change and went to Crystal Palace,” she said.

The article continues that it remains to be seen whether Ohuruogu will be honored the way past female track champions were recognized – Ann Packer is an MBE, Sally Gunnell an OBE and Kelly Homes is a Dame.

If you asked us, we think she deserves some kind of recognition from the British Empire. If Elton John was knighted by singing “candle in the wind” then, certainly, Ohuruogu merits a “Dame” before her name.

Thursday 21, Aug 2008

Victor Conte offers some advice to WADA on steroid testing

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Victor Conte steroidsTo Victor Conte, the Caribbean is not only great for doing some R and R, but for doping as well.

In his letter to the New York Daily News, the former big boss of BALCO is giving out unsolicited advice for anti-doping organizations to step up their testing policies. And we’re sure Conte meant well and definitely knows what he’s talking about. He is a reformed man since he has spent some time in prison and then some more time on house arrest, we think any man would have the opportunity to turn over a new leaf under those circumstances. And for masterminding the biggest steroid scandal in history, we are sure he knows the ins and outs of steroid use.

Apparently, Mr. Conte is so concerned with the problem of doping in sports that he met with the former WADA boss Dick Pound in December 2007. Then, Conte has stressed the importance of implementing more out-of-competition testing to curb the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

On said meeting, Conte said he advised Pound to deploy “disguised testers” to Jamaica, providing WADA with details about a certain drug supplier there. Conte pointed out to Pound the futility of undertaking testing at competitions saying that it is during the offseason period that PEDs are widely used “when athletes use anabolic steroids in conjunction with intensive weight training and develop the explosive strength base that serves them throughout the competitive season”.

Pound, however, stepped down two weeks after the meeting, according to Conte, and the organization “failed to act upon the information.”

As for the ongoing Games in Beijing, Conte has this to say:

I have no evidence of doping by any of the winners of medals in Beijing, but when times begin falling like rain, questions arise, especially when the record-setters are from countries such as Jamaica and other Caribbean nations where there is no independent anti-doping federation. In the women’s 100 meters, for instance, four of the eight finalists in the event were from such countries. Jamaican women swept all three Olympic medals: Shelly-Ann Frasier’s winning time of 10.78 seconds is blazing fast, and reflects a drop from a best of 11.31 in 2007 to 10.78 in 2008, an improvement of more than five-tenths of a second in a single year and about five meters faster than before.

In the letter, Conte also talks about Usain Bolt, who won the men’s 100-meter gold medal and whose triumph Conte considers as “a shocking world-record time of 9.69.” Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson also merited a special mention in Conte’s letter.  Thompson won the silver in same event in a personal best time of 9.89.

Conte says that that something is going on considering that five out eight finalists in the men’s 100-m race were from an area “where there is minimal out-of-season testing and five-of-six 100-meter medals were won by athletes from Caribbean countries without independent anti-doping federations”. Conte, however, reiterates that he has no knowledge that said athletes were involved in illegal activity. He says: “All I know is that they and other athletes come from regions where minimal offseason testing is administered.”

Conte’s ends his appeal with these statements:

There is a desperate need for each of the Caribbean countries to have an independent and fully functioning anti-doping federation. Until that is the case, the sprinters from these countries are going to continue to be under a cloud of suspicion.

I believe that these athletes need to be frequently drug tested on a random basis during the offseason, so that the cloud of suspicion can begin to move on. It’s my opinion that more effective drug testing in the Caribbean will help to restore the credibility of entire sport of track and field.

Thursday 21, Aug 2008

Christine Ohuruogu is now track’s golden girl despite missed steroid tests

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Christine Ohuruogu SteroidsYou’ve got to give to it to Christine Ohuruogu. This 24-year-old Brit girl is so good in running – running on the track and running from doping-steroid tests.

Despite being banned for one year, Ohuruogu stood on the podium on Tuesday, basking in Olympic glory after finishing the 400-meter event at 49.62 seconds. Stunning is what many described the race, in which Shericka Williams of Jamaica took the silver while Sanya Richards of the United States, the event’s favorite, earned the bronze medal.

FYI, Ohuruogu missed three doping (steroid) tests in the period between October 2005 and July 2006 and because of those infringements she was served one-year ban lasting until August last year. After a mere three weeks after serving her ban, she won her world title in Osaka, Japan.

Subsequent to her third missed test, she received the ban from the International Association of Athletics Federations. Ohuruogu attempted to overturn the ban by taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS upheld the decision of the IAAF.  CAS, however, stated that “no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs” and that “this case can be viewed in all the circumstances as a busy young athlete being forgetful”.

The Nigerian-born Ohuruogu also received a lifetime ban from the Olympics because of a British Olympic Association bylaw barring anyone with a doping conviction from representing Britain. She was able to challenge and won the BOA ban on appeal as the independent Sports Dispute Resolutions Panel agreed that there had been “significant mitigating circumstances.”
We thought that being ‘forgetful’ is a lame excuse for going around dope tests, but it seems it’s considered as a valid reason. Other athletes, we’re sure, we’ll be a tad forgetful during screening time.

As for her recent victory in Beijing, Ohuruogo says: “I am just so proud of myself. I know I am the type of athlete who rises to the big occasion.”

The AFP describes Ohurougu’s winning moment and the dejection of those who aspired for the gold and lost it to the controversial Briton. The drama unfolds in Beijing:

Ohuruogu … looked out of it rounding the bend and with 100 metres to go.

(Sanya) Richards, who had said last week that she thought the Briton was fortunate to be competing here, looked at that point set fair for the gold she believed was her due after a miserable year suffering from a rare illness in 2007 as she had a clear lead.

However, down the straight the Jamaican-born naturalised American started to tie up and Ohuruogu’s more measured and controlled race paid off as she passed two Russians and then the final prize of 23-year-old Richards.

Ohuruogu crossed the line just ahead of the fast-finishing Williams, who had passed a tiring Richards.

Ohuruogu could scarcely believe what she had achieved, sinking to her knees and then lying on her back.

Richards, who as a result of Behcet’s disease suffered such bad mouth ulcers that she could not eat or talk and dreadful lesions on her legs, cut a dejected figure.

“I’m not well. I just worked so hard for this.

“This is so devastating for me. I was in control coming round the curve and then my right hamstring cramped on me.

“It went with 70 metres to go. I feel so betrayed by my body again.

“It’s such a tough break.”

Wednesday 20, Aug 2008

Coach takes the blame for athlete’s positive test for anabolic steroids

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Daniela Yordanova SteroidsNot many would do what coach Dimitar Vassilev did when he took responsibility for the positive doping test of his middle distance runner Daniela Yordanova.  In the doping world, where fingerpointing seems to be the trend, this is a rare act.

Yordanova tested positive for testosterone on June 13, 2008. She was considered to be one of her country’s best bets to earn medals in the athletics in the ongoing Beijing Olympics. She placed third and fifth in the 2006 European Championships and in 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens respectively. The Sofia Echo provides details on this news.

Dimitar Vassilev, the coach of Bulgarian runner Daniela Yordanova, took the blame for the positive doping test that will prevent her from participating in the Beijing Olympics, the Associated Press reported on August 18.

“I take the full responsibility for Daniela Yordanova’s positive doping test,” Vasilev was quoted as saying. He said that diet supplements were most likely the cause: “Last spring, I incidentally bought some medicines from Greece and Turkey and most probably they contained some contaminated supplements.”

Yordanova, fifth in the 1500m race at the Athens Olympics, was seen as one of Bulgaria’s best bets for an athletics medal in Beijing. Test samples taken on June 13, however, came back positive for testosterone and she did not even fly out for China.

“We have to take a decision on Yordanova within two months. The expected sanction is a two-year competition ban,” Bulgarian athletics federation president Dobromir Karamarinov said, as quoted by the AP.

“Daniela was part of the world’s elite in the last eight years. She’s been tested constantly and all her samples so far were negative,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “I feel sorry that it’s happening with an athlete who is a model for giving everything possible during training and competitions.”

Wednesday 20, Aug 2008

Another Greek athlete tested positive for a banned steroid

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Greece_olympics_steroidsWe all know how great Greeks are in diverse fields – philosophy, literature, science and arts, to name just a few.  And because of the Greek diaspora, it has been said that many civilizations across the globe had developed because of the influence of the Greeks.

But these days, however, the Greeks have been losing their distinction especially in the world of sports. This is being witnessed in the ongoing Olympics – which is another Greek’s contribution to the world – as members of the Greek team continue to decrease because of use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The latest ‘casualty’ is runner Fani Halkia, who tested positive for the anabolic steroid methyltrienolone. AP reports.

A Greek TV station says Fani Halkia, who won gold in the women’s 400 meters hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, has tested positive for a banned substance.

Skai TV also said Saturday that Halkia has already left the Olympic village.

Another Greek station, Mega Channel, also said an athlete had tested positive for the banned steroid methyltrienolone. But it did not name the athlete.

Halkia was tested a few days before the Beijing Olympics in Japan, where Greece’s track and field team had been training.

Tuesday 19, Aug 2008

HOC president says use of steroids “likely to be widespread”

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Beijing-2008-Summer-Olympics-SteroidsIt took so long for the International Olympic Committee to realize that organized doping is the reason why the Greek athletes are now being considered as endangered species. The Greek Olympic team’s ranks continue to diminish as the Summer Games in Beijing push on because their athletes have been found out to be using the anabolic steroid methyltrienolone.

Really, it doesn’t take a genius to arrive at the conclusion that there exists a systematic doping within the Greek team. You’ve got 15 athletes, all from one team, and all testing positive for one banned substance – that’s in-your-face-doping.

Excerpts from the AP report.

Organized doping is likely behind a recent spate of positive drug tests in Greek sports, the president of the country’s Olympic Committee said Monday.

“There are 15 people, all with the same substance. This is the strangest thing, because it leads to the conclusion that there is an organized effort,” Minos Kyriakou told The Associated Press.

The athletes — 11 weightlifters, three runners and a swimmer — all tested positive for methyltrienolone, a banned steroid.

“There is an organized crime — because that is what this is called,” Kyriakou said. “Because it seems there is a lot of money hidden there, a lot of profit.”

The Hellenic Olympic Committee president stopped short of making a direct accusation as to who could be behind a system of doping, but said the state must crack down on the practice.
In the latest embarrassment for Greece, reigning women’s 400-meter hurdles champion Fani Halkia was sent home from Beijing on Sunday, hours before her scheduled heats, after testing positive for methyltrienolone. Her test was conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency at a Greek team training camp in Japan on Aug. 10.

The scandal broke in Beijing on Sunday, the day that Greece won its first three medals — silver in men’s rowing and a bronze each in women’s sailing and women’s triple-jump.
Halkia denied any wrongdoing, telling Greek reporters in Beijing she was “shocked” that she had tested positive.

But Kyriakou had harsh words about the athlete.

“I don’t talk about dead people,” he said. “Whoever does such things, gets mixed up in such things, commits suicide. And when someone wants to commit suicide, nobody can stop them.”
The 11 weightlifters, who not been named publicly, tested positive for methyltrienolone months before the Olympics, and the steroid was also found in tests on swimmer Yannis Drymonakos, 400-meter runner Dimitrios Regas and sprinter Tassos Gousis.
“Of course it has to be organized, when there are so many cases with the same substance,” Kyriakou said.

The HOC president said the problem of doping was likely to be widespread.

Tuesday 19, Aug 2008

Russian athlete got away with the gold despite his steroid reputation

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russia_flagLooks like Valeriy Borchin walked the walk and won the gold for it. By ‘walked the walk’ we mean Borchin took what is apparently to be the main staple of modern Olympics – steroids and other performance boosters.

The Russian walker had been a bad boy when he had reportedly tested positive for EPO and maybe steroids just before the start of the Summer Games in Beijing. Yes, he snatched the gold despite his blood being tainted literally with what is many considered as the miracle drug.

It seems no sport is immune from the lure of this performance-enhancing drug. The Independent.ie reports the drama from Beijing:

The pace was hot and the sun was getting hotter but Robert Heffernan from Togher in Cork was going very well yesterday morning until “the Russian” materialised alongside him in the leading pack.

They were some 12 kilometres into the Olympic 20km walk final when Valeriy Borchin joined the front group. Heffernan had been up at the front from the start but now, said George Hamilton in commentary for RTE, “you’d be concerned about the ominous presence of the Russian.”

How right he was — Borchin went on to win it. He was “ominous” in more ways than one: it turns out that Borchin is a drugs cheat who had reportedly tested positive for EPO just before the Beijing Games but ended up taking gold anyway.

Still, another eight kilometres remained at that point and Heffernan was looking comfortable among the contenders as they hammered out the hard yards. The only interruption to his steady rhythm came at the water stations where he would swipe a bottle from the table and douse his head before picking up his concentration again.

Heffernan spent most of the first hour tucked in nicely behind them, concealed from the judges who were watching for infringements and issuing warnings to anyone caught ‘lifting’. Race walkers are supposed to have one foot in contact with the ground at all times but the slow-motion replays seemed to indicate that just about everyone was breaking this basic rule. The race became something of a free-for-all as technical discipline crumbled under the pace of the leaders and the pressure of the occasion. Only two from the field of 51 were disqualified.

Borchin also received a warning late in the race and by now he seemed to be running more than walking. In fact, he was flying and with 18kms gone had burned off the remaining challengers for gold. He came home in 79 minutes; Heffernan finished in eighth place some 95 seconds behind the winner. With 43 athletes behind him in an Olympic final, it was a world-class performance.

But the athlete who had lost the most, according to the article, was Jefferson Perez. The 34-year-old Ecuadorian took the silver in the said event and many say he deserved that gold more than his Russian opponent.

Perez won gold at the Atlanta Games in 1996; he came fourth in Sydney and fourth again in Athens. A national hero in his native Ecuador, he was given the title there of sportsman of the 20th century. We can only assume that his country, on the other side of the world, came to a standstill as they gathered around their television sets to watch him go for glory one more time. They would have seen their ageing champion hanging onto Borchin in a sport that is easy to ridicule but brutally tough to endure. He lasted longer than anyone else in the scattered field and had the silver medal wrapped up long before he entered the Bird’s Nest stadium for the final stretch of the race.

What baffled many sport observers was how Borchin was able to join in the game despite the fact that days prior to the event Russian athletics officials openly admitted that Borchin was among those who tested positive for the banned compound. The testing was administered in an out-of-competition screening last April. It was reported that he was dropped from his country’s Olympic team and how Borchin got back in and participate in the Olympics remains unclear.  Considering that this is not the first time he was found out to be cutting corners with PEDs, contributes more to this puzzle. Borchin was penalized with a one-year ban in 2005 for taking the stimulant ephedrine when he was just 18.

And what’s adding to this Russian conundrum is when you take into account Vladimir Kanaikin.

And it could have been much worse for Perez and the rest of the race walkers if Vladimir Kanaikin hadn’t been one of the athletes caught with EPO in his bloodstream just before the Games.

Kanaikin smashed the world record for the 20km walk in 2007. His record in turn was broken by another Russian, Sergey Morozov, earlier this year. Morozov was favourite for the gold medal won by Borchin. But he withdrew in mysterious circumstances from the Games last week. No-one offered an explanation. “He has not come here,” said an official from the Russian athletics team. “We waited for him but he did not come to Beijing.”

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