All about ... performance enhancing drugs

Idealog tackles the so-hot-right-now topic of athletic doping.

Idealog tackles the so-hot-right-now topic of athletic doping.

Are they a new thing?

While steroid use really took off in the 1960s, the first use of drugs by endurance athletes was in 19th century ultra-long distance (500 miles!) walking races when competitors used opium to stay awake for days at a time, despite suffering complete physical exhaustion and often hallucinations. These days, we use economy class air travel to achieve the same effect.

Why don’t the Black Caps and/or Wellington Phoenix take some?

The answer’s in the name. Performance enhancing drugs enhance performance, silly. To work, they need some performance to enhance.

Blood doping: what’s that about?

Not as complicated as it seems. Imagine a Twilight movie, except after getting your blood sucked out by a pale yet oddly handsome vampire, you in turn get to suck blood from a much fatter person, then ride a bike.

Is the WADA urine testing regime taking the piss?

That’s pretty much the way it works, yes.

EPO and Prince Tui Teka’s crossover hit, E Ipo: different things?

Absolutely! Although the line in the first verse, “Ko taku aroha ka u tonu,” (“my love will remain firm,”) could be interpreted as a reference to enhanced performance of another kind entirely.

Are any cyclists truly drug-free?

Yes, the good news is that thousands of cyclists take to the roads every day without the benefit of artificial performance enhancement. They’re easy to spot, too: just look for the big pannier bags and NZ Post emblems.

In the song ‘I’m on the drug that killed River Phoenix’, Australian cult band TISM sang “Hillary had, Hillary had, Hillary had it in his veins”. What were they getting at?

Crikey! Rest assured the only snow Sir Edmund saw was the pure, driven variety on the South Col.

Why didn’t Lance Armstrong just say no?

He did, although it may have formed part of the sentence, “No thanks, I already have plenty.”

Have there been any drug scandals in New Zealand sport?

Marijuana-using balloonists aside, New Zealand’s biggest sporting drug scandal was in 1966 when marching team The Foxton Foxettes ordered some Bolivian Marching Powder due to a misunderstanding and consumed the lot before the Horowhenua Championships. Several of the squad are said to be still high-stepping up and down the Otaki Domain to this day.