Field Theory by Hadyn Green


Never alone with Metenolone

Well this is interesting. Valerie Adams is promoted to the gold medal position after Nadzeya Ostapchuk tests positive for a banned steroid. Cue people lining up to say "I knew she was cheating! I mean just look at her!"

Yes look at her. Look at all of them. All the shot putters, male and female. Then look at the other athletes. Look at the fucking swimmers for Christ's sake. There is no athlete at the games who looks like a normal person*. They are all freaky mutants and, in part, that's why they are there.

Tell me again how you have the ability to eyeball someone and know they are using performance enhancers.

Of course you don't and nobody does, except may be a long-serving doping official who has seen their share of overly muscled people and fake penises (potentially NSFW). What you actually saw was a woman who looked unlike your usual expectation of femininity and you conjured up images of East German athletes from the 1980s.

There is a shitstorm in that direction of thinking.

Steroid use can make women look more masculine. Metenolone, the drug that Ostapchuk tested positive for, has a weak androgenic effect. According to the Association Against Steroid Abuse (whose website sure does give a lot of information about how to use steroids): "The largest concern for most women and anabolic steroid use is virilization; however, with responsible use this is non-existent in almost all females."

Here's a shot of Ostapchuk in 2007, at the Olympics in 2008, and here she is in 2012. I'm not sure she look more muscular or masculine. Just older.

The Steroid Abuse site also mentions "Most will find Primobolan to be best served in a cutting cycle; while it will not promote muscle tissue growth to any great degree it is a fantastic steroid for the use of preserving existing muscle tissue." So you can keep being as good as you are for longer.

Ostapchuk threw 21.36m ahead of Adams' 20.70m. If anything was going to make you suspicious it would be a throw 60cm further than the person who has been beating her consistently. With Ostapchuk removed, 50cm separates first from third place).

Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen was also under suspicion when she swam the final length of her 400m medley faster than Ryan Lochte. The suspicion was raised not so much because she was faster than a man, but because the time was a statistical outlier. (By the way there is no evidence against Ye beyond this and I am not suggesting that she cheated in any way). It's a bit like a bank robber waiting before spending his loot, so they don't tip off the police.

If you are consistently good, then no one notices, but if you suddenly pull a giant performance out of your overly-muscled backside, then people get suspicious.

People may have been suspicious of Usain Bolt’s incredible performances at first, but now that he has won the 100 and 200 meter sprints for two Olympic Games in a row (not to mention his incredible performance as an anchor in the 4 x 100 meter relay) and his times have been consistently phenomenal, we can easily form internal attributions for Bolt’s superior running skills rather than suspecting that he is secretly doping….

However, this lies in stark contrast to the case of Ye Shiwen, the Chinese swimmer who was slammed with drug abuse accusations after her record-breaking 400M Individual Medley win. The main causes for suspicion were her unprecedented acceleration during the final 50 meters of her 400M race and the fact that she beat her own personal best time by a fairly large margin. In fact, most Olympic feats that cause suspicion are similarly unprecedented or far superior to that athlete’s previous performance, suggesting a low level of consistency for that particular athlete.

Of course it may also be that Usain Bolt is Usain fucking Bolt and makes up 90% of all Olympics coverage and is a worldwide sports star. Ye Shiwen is far from a household name.

Of course none of this is why she was tested. Ostapchuk was tested because she won gold. She was tested the day before because she was one of the group leaders. That's how drug testing works.

So if you knew Ostapchuk was cheating, you really didn't. You perhaps suspected, perhaps you had sour grapes, but no one knew. Until now.

Adams has to wait for the formalities and the appeals and so on before she gets that pretty gold medal. Congratulations to her. Her 20.70m throw was 20cm further than the gold winner four years ago.

Finally, I must only know wonderful people because, while I have seen numerous angry rants about sexist comments directed at Ostapchuk and her appearance, I have not seen any of the comments themselves. These incredibly unfunny "jokes" are then defended with the "steroids make you look like a dude" line of reasoning. Of course this is just the blanket excuse they have pulled out because they wanted to make the joke before but felt a bit ashamed about doing so. They should still be ashamed.


*I will entertain arguments about team athletes, (football, hockey etc) and then say they aren't real Olympic sports and we can have that argument.

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