Boilermaker Blog

Sex & Drugs and Rock& Roll

Ok, I’m not going to talk about sex (but I did get your attention). Rather I’m going to deal with drugs and rock& roll.
The rock& roll is the Rock& Roll Half Marathon that took place in Providence, Rhode Island on August 19th.
The winner of the race, Christian Hesch who ran the race in one hour seven seconds, admitted to injecting erythropoietin (EPO) during his training regimen. EPO is a natural hormone that controls red blood cell production. Red blood cells are a critical component to increased oxygen capacity. I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but oxygen transfer is critical to endurance.
As a side note Mr. Hesch made quite a name for himself at the race by stopping short of the finish line and knocking out five pushups prior to breaking the finishers tape. The competition was sprinting towards the finish during Christian’s stunt with a Kenyan runner finishing eight seconds behind.
The blood doping was uncovered by a fellow Nike team member who discovered an empty drug vial in Christian’s gym bag.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) was informed, and in September confronted Hirsh- he had never had to submit to drug testing in any previous races he had run. Perhaps the Lance Armstrong case loomed large in his mind; he decided to come clean (pun intended) with USADA on his drug use. Sanctions for drug use in road racing tend to be stiff, usually involving banning further competition by the guilty party for years.
A couple of points raised by this episode- one philosophical, and one specifically Boilermaker-related.
If one looks at sports road racing would seem to be one of the sports that be one of the more ‘entrancing’ to doping. We are a simple sport, you run faster than all the other people, with no real need of eye/ hand coordination that the ‘ball sports’ demand.
The Boilermaker has been drug testing for years and we make a big deal about it. We are involved with a group of races that work with USADA to keep the sport (or at least our race) clean. I’m convinced ‘the druggies’ think twice about entering races that drug test and head towards non-testing races (that usually have a smaller winner’s purse- Hesch won $1,000 at Providence). EPO use is pretty ‘old school’ and would have been caught in testing.
The cost of drug testing is expensive but I fear the cost of no testing would be far more costly to the sport. Just look at what the Armstrong case for cycling and the steroid-era that major league baseball continues to deal with.
Perhaps Christian should enter a pushup contest because road racing has no room for drugs.

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