August 7, 2012

Olympics Q&A

My new Taki's Magazine column consists of the answers to a bunch of made-up questions I asked myself about the Olympics.
Q. An NBC segment showed muscular American 100M silver medalist Carmelita Jeter working out under shadowy veteran coach John Smith on Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Is that a reassuring sign? 
A. No. The Santa Monica-Venice area has been Muscle Beach since the 1930s and a hotbed of steroid use for a half-century or more. (In general, Southern California’s fabulous athletic history—such as O. J. Simpson’s 1968 Heisman Trophy and world record in a sprint relay—should come with a big asterisk.) 

Read the whole thing there.

By the way, Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard has been just about the only journalist interested in researching the pre-history of the Steroids Era. As we all know, there were a lot of dirty rotten cheaters recently, but the sporting heroes of our youths (whenever our youths may have been) were pure as the driven snow  But, Karlgaard has repeatedly asked, how do we know that? If you are under 60, how do you know that your favorite athlete of your youth wasn't a pioneer?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tonight was the first I've seen of any of the Olympics, and it happened to be a semi-final beach volleyball match, then the women's 200 meter semi-finals, then the last of the women's gymnastics competition.

I'm not a track and field follower so I am wondering: have female runners always been so flat chested? I mean, I realize that boobs weigh athletes down so I figure that runners at this level probably have body types that aren't busty, but looking at the muscles of these women, their overall mannish shapes, their lack of breasts, I couldn't help feeling they are all using chemicals.

In order to compete in gymnastics, the females must be pre-pubescent.

The beach volleyball women were manly.

Adult women with feminine forms? Anything for them in the Summer Games?

Anonymous said...

Decathletes (and now their female equivalent, the pentathletes) being predominantly bi-racial with one afro parent, is something quite interesting and worth analyzing some more.

By the way both Jessica Ennis and Lewis Hamilton have black carribean fathers and white english mothers.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

Adult women with feminine forms? Anything for them in the Summer Games?

Women's diving.

Funny how Jessica Ennis has less upper body muscle than Carmelita Miller, despite training for sports that require upper body strength.

I am Lugash.

P.S.--Is cat now!

stari_momak said...

Tangential -- but here's one for the "Diversity before Diversity" files, the first American to medal in the 10,000 , Lewis Tewanima.

Could always through Jim Thorpe in there too -- when I was a kid his name and feats were commonly known, but seem to have been memory holed for some reason.

BTW it's an interesting question whether Tewanima, a Hopi, was actually an American citizen in 1912.

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/08/07/mormon-utopia-in-utah/

Anonymous said...

"Adult women with feminine forms? Anything for them in the Summer Games?"

The quest for sex equality at the London Olympics is going where no Games has gone before with men taking up some of the previously women-only roles as flower and medal bearers at the victory ceremonies.

L.A.R. said...

"A. Although Bolt epitomizes West African-descended sprinting talent, he has the face of an East African distance runner. (Here’s a picture of Bolt with his more conventional-looking Jamaican rival Yohan Blake.) Nobody seems to know why Bolt looks like an immense Kenyan."

I have to take issue with this. I have lived for years in East Africa (especially Kenya) and in West Africa (Ghana and Gambia). You will find lots of West African who have Bolt's head shape especially in Ghana (though they will not have his height). For that part of West Africa, it's like to be most common head shape. And among the Luo's in Kenya, you will find many who have head shape of Blake, though they will be much darker. It's true that in Kenya, Bolt's head shape would be common among Kikuyu, but this is not majority in Kenya. I have spent lots of time in Kisumu, and Blake wouldn't stand out based on his head shape feature alone. If by East Africans, you are referring to mainly Ethiopian, you point about Bolt's head shape is likely to be true - but not among Kenyans.

Anonymous said...

"Research has shown that the face the majority of people of all ages find most attractive is symmetrical, flawless, and mixed race."

Is there a reason for this? I must admit, I find Ennis to be very attractive.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

The history of steriods(along with body building, physical culture and a bunch of other weird stuff) was written about in depth by a guy named Randy Roach in three books called "Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors".

I am Lugash.

ziel said...

OK - Mickey Mantle. He was notoriously muscular for his day, but never seemed to work out. Still, given his Okie/miner background, is it even remotely conceivable he could have been doping?

Hapalong Cassidy said...

I remember one of the Canadian synchronized divers was very easy on the eyes. Black hair and breasts that were very large by Olympian standards.

The MacFrankfurt School said...

Could always through Jim Thorpe in there too -- when I was a kid his name and feats were commonly known, but seem to have been memory holed for some reason.

The future is known - it is only the past which is in doubt.

MOO HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Anonymous said...

Chris Bell's movie documents steroid use by the Olympic weightlifting team back in the late Fifties. The Steelers of the early Seventies were all juiced up.

The bottom line is "Who Knows?".

Ramble said...

I know that cycling has had some kind of drug use going back to at least the 1940's. One famed Italian cyclist once said (when asked in the early 50's) if he used amphetamines,

"There are 2 kinds of cyclists: Those that use amphetamines and losers".

Hockey, as far as I can tell, was a fairly clean sport for many years. And, to this day, I am not sure how much PED use there has been, but, I have not followed the sport in well over 15 years.

I am really curious to know how clean Mixed Martial Arts (i.e. UFC) is. I gotta feeling that there is a fair amount of tomfoolery there.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of dirty rotten cheaters at the Olympics I recently watched the Chinese Women's beach volleyball team. The two players look like they collectively outweigh the American team by at least 60 lbs. Clearly they are physically more powerful than the Americans who ultimately beat them by exploiting their muscle bound condition which makes it harder to pivot at the net.

Anonymous said...

Have to come here for any and all interesting commentary about the games. Thank you Steve.

Dan in DC

jeanne said...

Steve you're on to something with the steroids pre-history. This goes way back. Remember when people used to say, stop working out and muscles will turn to fat? Then the experts "debunked" this claim saying that was physically impossible.

But clearly where the "myth" came from was aging bodybuilders going off the juice and turning to flab. I saw this phenom with my own eyes, decades ago.

Anonymous said...

"Adult women with feminine forms? Anything for them in the Summer Games?"

Soccer and field hockey players are somewhat less manly. Still very muscular though.

not a hacker said...

Steve, do you think Philadelphia might overcome Oregon as the new center of interest in distance running?

Anonymous said...

Again I think Lemaitre could have won a medal in the 100m, although his chances are lower than in 200m. He has already beaten Gatlin in the 100m semi last year in Daegu, South Korea at the world championships and ran neck and neck in 2010 or 2011 with Blake in the 100m. The only medalist that really beat Lemaitre badly was Bolt, and he beats everyone badly, including Blake and Gatlin.

pat said...

The first anonymous ponders the masculine body types of female athletes. That's hardly surprising. Human shapes were optimized for the needs of our paleolithic ancestors. The men were optized for hunting - the women for gathering and childbirth.

Olympic events are hunting like activities.

One of my childhood sports heros was indeed a pioneer. Lyle Alzedo experimented (on himself) with Human Growth Hormone. And it worked. He got real big and strong.

But he had to use the extremely expensive HGH derived from the hypothalamii of human cadavers. No one quite understood prion diseases then. Later we would learn about Spongiform Encephalotomy and Scrapie. In humans these kind of diseases were called Mad Cow Disease or Kuru.

These diseases are caused by ingesting spinal or brain tissue. In cows it began when they ground up the sick cows and and added it to cow feed for the others. Kuru is a human disease of canibalism. They ate the brains of their enemies. Farmers inadvertantly made it possible for cows to also be canibals.

Lyle Alzedo's HGH extracts required hundreds of cadaver brains. There were some bad prions in all those many samples.

Most people today cite him as an example of steroid abuse. Not so. He died horribly from an encephalopothy that he acquired in a totally unique manner.

Today of course they no longer use cadavers. The price of HGH has dropped hugely. Body builders everywhere have gained from Alzedo's sacrifice.

Albertosaurus

jody said...

they call her pharmalita jeter on the track & field boards. yes, she's on drugs. TRT, SARMS, HGH, one or more of those, at levels below the allowed detection limit.

you don't run 11.5 when you are 25 years old, in your physical sprinter's peak, then run 10.6 when you are 30 years old. nobody gets 1 second faster at 100 meters.

especially, if you are female, you don't run 10.6, period. there hasn't been a female who ran 10.6 who wasn't on drugs. anything faster than 10.8 and it's a red flag. the best woman can go 10.9 and then with +2.0 wind that gets them down to 10.8.

anybody who watches track & field for years can tell you immediately when a woman looks like a bodybuilder and not an athlete, she's a drug user.

allyson felix on the other hand is not only clearly clean, she's one of the most talented natural sprinters of all time. you can tell who the drug women are in the 200, because their drug muscles start to fail at about 150 meters and the clean sprinters pass them. allyson felix and sanya richards run away from the drug users. all their drug muscles are bulked up for the 10 second explosion in the 100 and don't work past that 15 second ATP burst in the 200.

allyson is very good looking too, probably the best looking pure blooded african woman who has ever been on the US track & field team. friendly, pleasant, attractive, and a millionaire from endorsements. i know i would date her. real talk, as they say.

jody said...

"Decathletes (and now their female equivalent, the pentathletes) being predominantly bi-racial with one afro parent, is something quite interesting and worth analyzing some more."

this isn't new. daley thompson was part african, and so was dan o'brien. although thompson was probably half african and o'brien was not very african.

brian clay was half asian and half african.

in general though they aren't mixed race. most of them are european and there's a few africans. roman sebrle was probably the best decathlon guy ever, was the best in the world for a long time and had the world record for 10 years or so. he finally crashed and burned today, DNF on the first event. doubt we'll ever see a czech like that again.

the women's event is heptathlon, not pentathlon.

jody said...

"Q. Should Michael Phelps retire from swimming forever?"

he doesn't have to. he can take 2 years off, then get in shape for the 2015 world championship, then peak at the 2016 olympics. he would be 31, still prime swimming years. i think a good training schedule for him would be 100 fly, 100 free. that would enable him to swim the 100 fly individual, 100 free individual, 400 free relay, and 400 medley relay.

he can also train for the 200 free, 200 fly, and 200 IM and probably medal in them as well, but that adds a lot of training for the extra distance, plus the extra breast and back training that comes with the IM that we would probably prefer to drop. if he wants the middle ground, then add only the 200 free, which puts him on the US team for the 200 free individual and the 800 free relay. 400 IM would be dropped for certain - he already dropped it in 2010, then reluctantly added it again, not training hard for it, hence not medaling in it.

definitely not the 50 free. he absolutely, positively would not make the US olympic team in the 50. 4 or 5 guys would beat him for sure. even if he makes the US team, which he cannot, he probably cannot go 21, which is what it takes to make the final now at the world championship or olympics. he's a 22 swimmer at 50 meters. always has been, always will be. he would, however, be the number 2 100 meter american behind nathan adrian. he can easily beat cullen jones in the 100 right now, who might not even be around in another 2 or 3 years. phelps is a 47 swimmer in the 100, jones is a 48 swimmer on a good day, 49 on a bad day.

however, phelps said he doesn't want to be swimming at 30. i don't blame him. even if he only trains for 100s, it's a minimum of 3 hours a day of pain to remain competitive at the world level. 2 hours in the water and 1 on land. he could come back at rio and win medals again, but he probably doesn't want to. he got his world records, he got his olympic record in medals, he got his 50 million dollars, and he achieved his personal goal of elevating swimming and raising it's profile in sports.

Anonymous said...

however, phelps said he doesn't want to be swimming at 30. i don't blame him. even if he only trains for 100s, it's a minimum of 3 hours a day of pain to remain competitive at the world level. 2 hours in the water and 1 on land. he could come back at rio and win medals again, but he probably doesn't want to. he got his world records, he got his olympic record in medals, he got his 50 million dollars, and he achieved his personal goal of elevating swimming and raising it's profile in sports.

I think he should settle down with that chick who cross-trained with him* and together they can work feverishly on correcting our looming demographic disaster.

IYKWIMAITYD...





*Although that other chick from North Baltimore Aquatics would also do.

Hell, if I were him, I'd talk the two of 'em into joining forces as sister wives.

jody said...

"Q. Why isn’t golf in the Olympics?"

not enough people play it around the world, like i've said about a dozen times. only americans are under the impression it's a big sport. it's not. how many russians or brazilians on the PGA tour? not sure if there's even a guy from china or not.

few people play competitive golf. more people do stuff like judo, which people already don't care about, and softball, which the IOC dropped...for lack of interest.

Anonymous said...

"in general though they aren't mixed race. most of them are european and there's a few africans......the women's event is heptathlon, not pentathlon."

Thanks for correcting my sloppy post. What I was thinking of was the trend towards Olympic "Champions" being mixed race.

With Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon this year and and Ashton Eaton, the world record holder, the favorite to win the Decathlon, the trend is getting stronger.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/london-2012-olympics-blog/2012/aug/08/london-2012-ashton-eaton-decathlon?newsfeed=true

jody said...

"But mostly, Oregonians are the last Americans to care deeply about the sport."

then why is track & field the number 2 sport in america, with more high school teenagers doing track & field than basketball, baseball, or soccer? record levels of participation hardly seem to be indicative of declining interest. track & field is big everywhere, not just oregon.

speaking of that, looks like the 110 meter hurdles is yet another example of the retarded place which american sports find itself. a guy from the UK and a guy from south africa in the final, but not ONE european in the US is fast enough to make the US team? there's only 5 or 6 million europeans in south africa. 200 million americans and not one guy can even make the US olympic trials final? in america it remains africans only, please.

thank goodness for track & field, at least it provides an objective example of how much euro americans are discriminated against in the US. without it, the "only blacks are even good enough to play these sports" crowd simply points to the preposterously discriminatory NFL and says "Winning is the most important thing, and see, no white guys can even help a team win. If the NFL is 100% black, that's simply because they were better." to them, the number 32, or number 64 african, is always better than the number 1 european.

by the way, much respect to leo manzano, solid 1500 meter runner for 5 or 6 years now and an olympic silver medal. probably the only mexican on the US olympic team to do anything in decades. not since pablo morales. huffington post seems to think he was an illegal alien though.

Truth said...

" i know i would date her. real talk, as they say."

Real talk, yes are you sure that this wealthy, famous sought-after, professional athlete in her early 20's is on your level ? Give her a call, I'm sure she's waiting by the phone with bated breath.

jody said...

"I am really curious to know how clean Mixed Martial Arts (i.e. UFC) is."

it's not. 10 year ago steroids were rampant. today, it's TRT. multiple champions popped for drugs over the years. ironically, brock lesnar appears to have been clean the entire time.

the list of positive tests is too long but even royce gracie tested positive in his later years. tim sylvia tested positive and was stripped. josh barnett tested positive 3 times! not only was he stripped, he is permanently banned from UFC. alistair overeem is currently under a 1 year ban for TRT. and so on and so forth.

"Steve you're on to something with the steroids pre-history. This goes way back. Remember when people used to say, stop working out and muscles will turn to fat? Then the experts "debunked" this claim saying that was physically impossible."

it is physically impossible. what happens is that after they get off steroids, they stop training, because their competitive career is over - but they don't stop eating. lots of them keep eating almost as much food every day as they were during their competitive years.

then, over time, the damage which the high doses of steroids have done to their organs, including their heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and testicles, begins to manifest itself in declining health, slower metabolism, and hypogonadism. their organs don't digest food as well as a normal 45 year old's would, and their natural testosterone production is BELOW what an average 45 year old guy, who was never a champion athlete, produces at the same age as these retired bodybuilders.

jody said...

"Again I think Lemaitre could have won a medal in the 100m"

no way on earth. in a clean field, maybe just barely bronze. he would probably be number 4 or 5 in a clean field. that's still eminently respectable. tyson gay i would say is for sure clean, the other guys all seem suspect, but the fastest guys are still slightly faster than lemaitre without the drugs.

the real problem for them "just being that fast, they aren't on drugs" is how they crank out 9.8 or 9.7 runs one after another, like it's no big thing. running those twice in one day even. in reality, a 9.9 run is a crushing event to your body, not something you can repeat often even if you're one of the best in the world. the drugs help them recover much faster. you'll notice tyson gay and christophe lemaitre, and other clean sprinters, don't peak at meets very often. they can usually peak once every 2 months or so. whereas the juicers are just busting out 9.7 runs regularly like it's nothing.

here's where you really have to respect phelps and lochte, and what the critics overlook. everyday they're doing 4 or 5 performances at 85% to 100% for 50 to 120 seconds. it's less damaging and jarring than track events, event for event...but phelps and lochte have to come back over, and over, and over, for an entire week. they put in over 20 performances in 7 days at 85% or higher, and their events last longer than 20 second sprints.

because it's not all televised, people forget there are prelims, semi finals, and finals for every event. it's 3 swims per event, plus relays. these guys are in far better shape than the track guys, even the 1500 guys. wrestlers are going through the same thing. 6 minute outbursts of sheer brutality, 2 to 4 times a day.

Truth said...

I'd love to be a fly on the wall on you and Allison's first date though:

Jody: "Alison, baby I love you, but you know that you are inferior to white girls in intelligence, personality and looks, and that the only reason you ever win a race is that the mass media and the drunk white fans fix the results to make white athletes look bad..."

Allison: "Rufus (her bodyguard) please escort this gentleman outside and punch him in his face."

8/8/12 2:50 PM

Whiskey said...

I don't think that having mixed race men and women athletes leads to the sales that corporate sponsors think they do. While its assumed that women do about 85% of all purchasing decisions, and they do have idealized attitudes about non-Whites, they get turned off by ultra-muscular athletes. In particular, the Williams sisters looking like linebackers in a dress, have a fraction of the sponsorship deals that Maria Sharapova and hot but not great athletically Kournikova have.

Indeed as Whites decline as a percentage of the population, I'd expect more desire for White only role models; along the lines of the research done by Putnam (Bowling Alone).

But then sports advertising is all about making the advertisers cool and eligible for awards, not actually driving sales.

jeanne said...

it is physically impossible. what happens is that after they get off steroids, they stop training, because their competitive career is over - but they don't stop eating

Yes, of course that is what happens. But back when the public was more naive, the experts left out the part about the steroids. Kind of an interesting detail, yes?

Truth said...

"But then sports advertising is all about making the advertisers cool and eligible for awards, not actually driving sales...."

Yeah, what idiot actually thought businesses advertised to make money?

Difference Maker said...

Sadly I never got to do track and field. I was a fast runner with good upper body strength and good aim. Owned at dodgeball. Javelin throw would have been fun fun fun

MQ said...

As Steve points out, it really is incredible how little attention is being paid to the greatest American Olympic performance in distance running in 50 years, possibly ever (if Rupp medals in the 5000). Both Rupp and Manzano are good stories too, and for the whiny white-victimization types around here Manzano is even a Mexican immigrant, and his story isn't getting any play either. Running is one of the oldest, most basic, most beautiful sports, and unlike most other sports everyone has done it. But it seems like except for a few sprints you have to be a double amputee freak show to get any attention on the track these days.

people forget there are prelims, semi finals, and finals for every event. it's 3 swims per event, plus relays. these guys are in far better shape than the track guys, even the 1500 guys.

Ummm, there are prelims, semi finals, and finals in the 1500 too. And running is harder on the body than swimming.

Jim said...

" Anonymous said...

"Research has shown that the face the majority of people of all ages find most attractive is symmetrical, flawless, and mixed race."

Is there a reason for this?..."


-Yes, the leftist elites are pushing multiculti and miscegenation. Most are not more attractive, and may be less. But the media selectively chooses exceptions when it presents a typical 'mixed' person. Want to see a typical mixed American? Look at an average African American- they're usually mixed and fugly.


"I must admit, I find Ennis to be very attractive."

That would be an exception.

Anonymous said...

"Q. Why isn’t golf in the Olympics?"


Golf will be in the Rio Olympics. There building the golf course right across the street from me here in Rio, on what was a nature reserve. I guess golf courses are green enough not to count as a nature destroyer.