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PROBLEMS IN A TURNED-ON WORLD
Bil Gilbert
June 23, 1969
The pill, capsule, vial and needle have become fixtures of the locker room as athletes increasingly turn to drugs in the hope of improving performances. This trend—one that poses a major threat to U.S. sport even though the Establishment either ignores or hushes up the issue—is explored here in Part I of a series
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June 23, 1969

Problems In A Turned-on World

The pill, capsule, vial and needle have become fixtures of the locker room as athletes increasingly turn to drugs in the hope of improving performances. This trend—one that poses a major threat to U.S. sport even though the Establishment either ignores or hushes up the issue—is explored here in Part I of a series

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Among the less startling assertions one could make today would be that we live in a drug culture. The vast majority of us gobble an aspirin here, gulp an antibiotic there, whiff a decongestant now or a few milligrams of nicotine then. We take a little opiate in our cough syrup, a jab of Novocain from the dentist, caffeine to start the day, alcohol to mellow it and a sedative to blank it out at bedtime. However, after it has been admitted that most citizens dope themselves from time to time, there remain excellent grounds for claiming that in the matter of drug usage, athletes are different from the rest of us. In spite of being—for the most part—young, healthy and active specimens, they take an extraordinary variety and quantity of drugs (see cover). They take them for dubious purposes, they take them in a situation of debatable morality, they take them under conditions that range from dangerously experimental to hazardous to fatal. The use of drugs—legal drugs—by athletes is far from new, but the increase in drug usage in the last 10 years is startling. It could, indeed, menace the tradition and structure of sport itself.

To begin, consider some examples of the role drugs have come to play in sport:

"A few pills—I take all kinds—and the pain's gone," says Dennis McLain of the Detroit Tigers. McLain also takes shots, or at least took a shot of cortisone and Xylocaine (anti-inflammant and painkiller) in his throwing shoulder prior to the sixth game of the 1968 World Series—the only game he won in three tries. In the same Series, which at times seemed to be a matchup between Detroit and St. Louis druggists, Cardinal Bob Gibson was gobbling muscle-relaxing pills, trying chemically to keep his arm loose. The Tigers' Series hero, Mickey Lolich, was on antibiotics.

?"We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines].... We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal.... We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium.... But I don't think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts," said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals

?After suffering a shoulder injury during the second quarter of the 1969 Sugar Bowl game, Arkansas Quarterback Bill Montgomery went to the sidelines, got a needleful of painkiller in the joint and came back to complete 11 passes and beat Georgia 'The shot helped," said Montgomery "My shoulder didn't hurt bad until the shot began to wear off in the fourth quarter."

?"Give me two sleeping pills," said Los Angeles Laker star Jerry West to his trainer following the first game of the 1969 NBA championships in which West scored 53 points against the Boston Celtics.

?On Oct. 24, 1968 in Grenoble, France, Jean-Louis Quadri, 18, a soccer player, dribbled toward the opposing goal. However, before he could get off his shot he collapsed on the field. He was dead on arrival at the Grenoble hospital. An autopsy indicated he was heavily drugged with amphetamines (pep pills). On Nov. 3, 1968, also in Grenoble, 23-year-old Yves Mottin was the surprise winner of a regional cross-country bicycle race. Two days later he died, and again amphetamines were a contributory factor. On Feb. 5, 1969 two French cyclists, Paul Barnay and Michel Fayolle, were indicted in a Grenoble court where they admitted having furnished Mottin with the fatal drugs, which they had smuggled into France from Italy.

?Amphetamines were among the drugs banned for use by athletes in the 1968 Olympic Games, and for which post-event testing was conducted. A U.S. weight lifter, who admitted most of his colleagues took a few amphetamines before competing in order to get that extra little lift, was asked how the Olympic ban affected performance "What ban?" he asked blandly "Everyone used a new one from West Germany. They couldn't pick it up in the test they were using. When they get a test for that one, we'll find something else. It's like cops and robbers."

?"Are anabolic steroids [a male hormone derivative that supposedly makes users bigger and stronger than they could otherwise be] widely used by Olympic weight men?" rhetorically asks Dave Maggard, who finished fifth in the shotput at Mexico and is now the University of California track coach. "Let me put it this way. If they had come into the village the day before competition and said we have just found a new test that will catch anyone who has used steroids, you would have had an awful lot of people dropping out of events because of instant muscle pulls."

?Dr. H. Kay Dooley, director of the Wood Memorial Clinic in Pomona, Calif., is well known among athletes as one of the few physicians who openly endorse use of anabolic steroids. "I don't think it is possible for a weight man to compete internationally without using anabolic steroids," says Dr Dooley. "All the weight men on the Olympic team had to take steroids. Otherwise they would not have been in the running" Dr. Dooley was one of the physicians in charge of medical services at South Lake Tahoe, the 1968 U.S. Olympic high-altitude training camp. "I did not give steroids at Tahoe," says the California physician, "but I also did not inquire what the boys were doing on their own. I did not want to be forced into a position of having to report them for use of a banned drug. A physician involved in sports must keep the respect and confidence of the athletes with whom he is working."

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