The Repoxygen Olympics
Four years ago in Salt Lake, the drug busters came up with a secret test for the blood booster Darbepoetin and caught out two cross-country skiers, Johann Muelegg of Spain and Larissa Lazutina of Russia. But if Repoxygen is used in Turin, the medics have got a headache. America’s Anti-doping Agency senior managing director, Larry Bowers, has already called it a “real threat”, while German biochemist Werner Franke said this week: “It is worse than in the GDR [former East Germany] and more brutal than Balco.”
The springboard for these dire pronouncements was an email German police found on the computer belonging to former east German coach to Katrin Krabbe, Thomas Springstein, who is on trial at the moment for doping under-age female athletes. The message complained how “difficult it is to get hold of Repoxygen. Please give me new instructions so that I can get hold of the product for Christmas”.
It was an historic moment: the moment that email was presented in open court was the exact moment when the latest stage of doping was officially confirmed. The era of genetic doping has arrived.
This stuff makes steroid use look like allowing your teenage daughter out wearing too much makeup.
I’ve never understood the reasoning of sports punditry who advocate opening wide the doors to atheletes to use whatever performance enhancing drugs they wish. While some of the regulations sound like overkill (caffeine?) what seems to be forgotten is the age at which elite atheletes begin training for Olympic careers.
It’s one thing to argue that a 24 year old NFL player has the right to fill his veins with Big Jim’s Extract of Bull Testicle – it’s quite another thing to give the chemical green light to a coach entrusted with the training of 11 year old gymnasts.