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Out of Our Minds
Thursday, December 22, 2005 2:32 PM
The New Definition of Sports Hero?
Kevin Salwen on Culture

In a rare moment of honesty and honor in the sports-doping world, East German swimming champion Petra Schneider is asking for her records to be abolished because she used illegal drugs. 'My record was influenced by doping,' Schneider told a German TV network. 'It's a record of the past. I'd like the current list to be reset at zero.'

Are you listening Messrs. McGwire, Palmeiro, et al...


Coley - 12/23/2005 12:46:43 AM
*To give some credibility to my post, I have been involved in USA Swimming for the past 9 years in various forms including collegiate swimmer, assistant coach under a former US National Team Director, and an intern at a top level swimming magazine.*

I very much respect Petra for asking her records be removed from the books (note: it has long been publically acknowledged that her swimming career involved dopping), but I'm not so sure you can compare her actions to the ideal of those who 'purposefully' dope coming clean. While Petra is a person and all people are responsible for their own actions, the doping in her circumstances occured because a young girl a. trusted her coaches and b. was doing what her government asked of her. How much could a young teenager in East Germany (pre-falling of the Berlin Wall) have known about what doping was, the dangers, the idea that it was cheating, and making decisions for herself about taking or not taking the drugs.

The entire situation is very sad. Petra still trained hard and worked for those records-- even if they were not 100% clean. It must have been very painful for her to ask they be removed, considering her situation.

On the same note, it seems much more likely for an honest, talented (drugs or not, you still have to have talent to do what she did!), and hard working athlete to ask as an adult that their records be stricken because of cheating that came about as it did in her case, than it would be for an American pro athlete who knows exactly what they are doing when they do it to come forward and admit wrongdoing (and ask for records to be removed).

As far as doping in the American sports world (outside of professional sports), I think that situations like the one Petra experienced are not that far removed from our own reality. I have personally seen countless swimmers blindly take supplements and other substances that their coach tells them to without ever stopping to ask what is in it, if it's safe, or if it is 'legal'. At the elite level in Olympic Sports (especially ones like swimming), the relationship between a coach and athlete is so strong that often the athlete will trust anything their coach says or tells them to do as gospel. I could easily see how, down the road, it could come out that top level athletes were unwittingly cheating with drugs that are not currently detected by drug testing, or that their coach took them off of far enough in advance of big competitions (where drug testing would take place)that they would not be detected. Sadly, it would not suprise me if several years from now some American athletes asked their records be removed after finding out they had, without realizing it, been cheating when they set them.
martin - 12/22/2005 6:12:34 PM
I think you ought to ask if MLB is listening. The athletes are only part of the problem. How do you explain an entire association turning a blind eye to the problem?
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 12/22/2005 5:18:43 PM
As a swimmer I understand the intensity and training it takes to achieve such a time. My daugher used to be on a team and they trained for hours on end in the water. Tough work. I can see why someone might want to enhance their abilities....hmmm does this apply in other areas of life perhaps?.....but, it's an unfair advantage. I applaud Petra for coming forth and coming clean. I hope her health hasn't suffered to much because of the doping. As to the others, Kevin, don't hold your breath. Living la vida fearless, Jan


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