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Monday, May 24, 2010

On The Dope

With the Floyd Landis allegations of rife doping on the pro tour set to cast a pall over this year's Tour de France, I thought I would dig up an article on some of the tricks top athletes and movie stars use to perform beyond their natural abilities and keep the paydays coming.

Outside Magazine did a great article a while back on the different performing enhancing drugs in which an amateur athlete puts himself through a regimen of drugs on the DL to see how the chemical cocktail could improve his performance.

"OK," the doctor said when we settled into his examination room. "What do you want to be?"

I looked confused, so he explained.

"You want to be bigger? Leaner? Faster longer or faster shorter? More overall endurance? You want to see better?"

"See better?"

"Human growth hormone does that for some people. It improves the muscles in the eyes." He tried again: "So, what do you want?"
This was quite a concept. Freud wrote that anatomy is destiny, and here was a doctor giving me a chance, in my late forties, to alter my body in the most fundamental way. It was strange, but also strangely alluring.

As a lifelong athlete, I have done my share of hard training for wrestling, cycling, running and fitness, and at no time did I ever feel inclined to try ANY type of supplement. I have always believed in receiving all my essential nutrients from the miracle drug called... food. I even resisted the allure of Creatine in the 90's and Whey protein. I just figured that if you couldn't get what you need from eating food, you're not going to get it. I have often simply organized my diet around the properties of the foods rather than the simple appearance, taste or whatever food lust I feel at any given moment.

The only time I have been aware or doping and steroid use was a guy I used to wrestle against, who gained 30lbs in muscle mass over a year and had stretch marks from the rapid growth... and after coming to Taiwan.

When I first moved into town and got settled, my friend and I decided to seek out a gym to keep fit. There were few gyms in Taichung at the time and most were really expensive. We finally found a gym that charged NT5000 for a year and was run by the former ROC weightlifting team from the glory days of the 1960's when Taiwan's diplomatic warfare was being fought on every international venue including the Olympic Games. The gym was in a concrete basement with no A/C and only rotating ceiling fans. The equipment was often homemade and made of steel and concrete molded in coffee cans. The ancient "Coach" would sit in the back doing calligraphy and occasionally shout for no reason.

We'd go in for two hours a day, four days a week and recover from some intense workouts over Taiwanese steaks. We were getting strong and ripped. I was 120lbs benching 7 sets of 7 reps at 210lbs... but I wasn't getting big, only strong.

The gym attracted gang enforcers and rabble as well as a small group of young guys who wanted to be weightlifters. We'd watch them come in looking like sticks and after a few months they were Atomic-Powered Supermen. The only thing we could see for sure was that they would get really big, really fast and disappear into the bathroom with their kits before working out. It was just kind of understood that these guys were getting a little extra help to prep for their competitions. Probably nothing exotic, just animal steroids or something, but they were surely on roids and had easy access to cheap performance enhancing drugs.
They were easy to get and no secret in the gyms of Taiwan.

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