SEVEN DOPED HORSES
This is an article from the July 22, 1963 issue
Ever since the Duke of Norfolk's committee recommended it in 1961, racehorses in England have been examined for doping on a random-selection basis. Now it turns out that during a recent six-week period, random tests produced seven cases in which "positive evidence of doping" was found. The discovery rocked the Jockey Club, which governs flat racing, and the National Hunt Committee, which controls steeplechasing, as severely as the adventures of Christine Keeler rocked the Conservative Party.
"It's a fantastic state of affairs," said Woodrow Wyatt, racehorse owner, Labor Member of Parliament and campaigner for government action on doping. "If these seven were found at random, how many untested horses were doped?"
A good question. The tests covered only two winners and a few unplaced horses at each meeting. These amounted to a mere 10 tests a week. As Norman Pegg observed in the London Daily Sketch, when the number is soon stepped up to 30 a week cold arithmetic suggests that the number of doping cases disclosed will increase threefold.
Worse yet, the doping was discovered even as a court at Brighton was hearing evidence in a similar case uncovered in 1962—one that led much alarmed British racing authorities to try to tighten their track security. A thorough investigation may disclose that at the bottom of doping is the low wage level of stable hands, never at best much more than $30 a week. In the opinion of one learned observer, until English stable lads are paid more, doping will almost certainly continue.
A VOICE FROM THE SEA
Among the thousand devotees of submarine adventure who attended the Underwater Society of America's Philadelphia meeting, there were a number engrossed in the problem of whether man can one day breathe water. There has been some early success with dogs and mice under rather special conditions. A number of explorers and technicians expounded the proposition that the land-born human, breathing gases in a natural manner, can live for days and weeks and years below. But the most famous undersea man, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was not among them. He sent regrets from the edge of a reef under the Red Sea, where he was at the time living, swimming, eating, sleeping, dreaming and working. The inherent risks of Captain Cousteau's submergence equal those of the astronauts, but scarcely anyone knew he had left his natural land world. There was no Mercury Control keeping the world in touch with him or a Shorty Powers to tell us what the captain was eating or how he had slept. After a month the captain was still under water.
The difference between the outer-space race and our progress in inner space was summed up at the convention by Clare Boothe Luce, a diving lady of experience (SI, Aug. 11 and 18, 1958). "Today," she said, "the United States is spending billions to beat Soviet Russia to the moon by a nose cone. Prestige is avowedly our government's prime motivation for this colossally costly undertaking. I happen to be one who believes pride is not a particularly worthy motivation for either a great government or its great scientists. The diversion of such vast funds and so many scientists from other efforts far more immediately and proximately useful in the name of prestige is, I believe, regrettable and will sooner or later be regretted.
"I do not doubt that within a decade the American people will come to see that compared to the treasures and pleasures, the riches and knowledge we can gain from visiting the Old Man of the Sea, the Man on the Moon has little to offer. Indeed, by comparison, he is a pauper and a swindler."
TOMORROW THE WORLD
In 1960 France sent 261 athletes to the Olympics. They came home with only five medals, to rank France 17th among the 84 participating nations. President de Gaulle—shocked, mortified and irate—demanded that by 1964 France should assume her rightful position among the leaders. (She ranks fifth in total medals won since the modern Olympics began in 1896.) Last week France had a field day. Her double-sculls team made the Henley final before losing to Holland. She made the Wimbledon finals for the first time since 1934, losing to Mexico in the men's doubles. In athletics and swimming, one European and 14 national records were set or equaled in nine days, THE DAY OF TRANSITION! trumpeted L'Equipe, the French sports paper. "Our honor has been saved." By Bastille Day, De Gaulle had not found time to voice his pride in the redemption of the Republic, but the public celebrated without official recognition.
Actually, most nations show improvement in a pre-Olympic year, considering it a period of concentrated practice and development, but do not attempt peak performance until the games begin. France may have shot her bolt too soon—or she may be setting French records today for world records tomorrow.
ANNUAL BLIGHT IN BLIGHTY
English eccentrics are not necessarily old or rich. They can be young and even poor and, as if acting on some natural, rhythmic impulse, they emerge each year at the height of summer. Like the groundhog, there is always someone who heralds the season's start. This year it was a young man who packs ice cream for a living.
"As you know," he said the other day" while nonchalantly strapping on a pair of homemade cane-and-cotton wings, "I am called Partridge and my first name is Donald—the same as that famous duck." With this as sufficient reason, Donald's daring plan was to take off from London's Hammersmith Bridge, 50 feet above the cold, smirking Thames, and fly away.
"I know my wings will work," Donald said, "as they are designed on similar lines to those of Leonardo da Vinci." With shrewd foresight he wore a pair of blue-striped swimming trunks and a life jacket. Then, in the shivering early morning, Donald Partridge hopped onto a parapet and bravely stepped off. For a moment he hung there, wings flapping and making a noise like washing in a sharp breeze. Then the wings collapsed, and Donald dropped down among some startled swans, to be hauled out by friends who think he is mad but lovable.
Now Donald has plans to make a pair of wings with a 30-foot span and to tie balloons to his feet to keep them up, thus presenting an improved aerodynamic shape to the elements.
DEATH BY TAXES
In tennis circles the name Southampton—meaning the tournament held at the Meadow Club in that Long Island community—has for 74 years been synonymous with one of the finest of tennis events. Southampton, whose role of honor goes back to long before Bill Tilden, has always been a major preliminary to the main events at Brookline and Forest Hills. Recently it has been one of the few tournaments played on grass.
Last week the grass at Southampton was as green as ever, but because the men who control amateur tennis were once again bickering, the tournament was dead. The official reason was withdrawal of sanction by the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association because the Meadow Club refused to pay 5% of all money received as demanded by the USLTA—a demand that included not only gate receipts but even contributions to support the tournament.
"Why should we have to give 5% of a contribution made to support this specific tournament," asked Grenville Walker, chairman of the Meadow Club tournament committee, "when the USLTA has given us no support in even seeing that our top players compete? The tournament has been operating at a loss for several years."
"We are sorry that the club has been losing money," responded a USLTA spokesman, "but it doesn't make any difference. The 5% rule applies to every tournament that has a gate."
Who is right? Both factions are, to some extent, but that is scarcely the point. The point for anyone who cares is that once again amateur tennis has gone down to defeat by default.
As Southampton dies, another famed old tournament—The Nassau Bowl, at the Nassau Country Club—is being revived. Let us hope that it gets better treatment.
SOUR DAY FOR SUGAR
So many sorry things happen to prizefighters during a bout that one might wish they could have an easier time of it outside the ring. The other night, defending his world featherweight championship against Nigerian Rafiu King at Mexico City, Sugar Ramos badly damaged both his hands. Every punch he threw in the final nine rounds cost him excruciating pain. But that was only the climax of his day of tribulation.
On the morning of the bout, Sugar woke up at 7 o'clock and, to his stable's horror, found that he was three pounds over the 126-pound limit. He had until noon to take them off. Since fighters of his caliber are trained down pretty fine, it appeared impossible. It was impossible. At the noon weigh-in, he still was half a pound over the limit, with only another hour's grace period in which to sweat it off. He managed it, within 15 minutes of the deadline. Naturally, the effort weakened him.
Then, less than four hours before the bout was to begin, torrential rain and hail poured down on the bullring, El Toreo, site of the match. After the storm ceased, the harried promoters decided to put the fight on an hour early lest the rain descend again. That gave Sugar an hour less in which to regain some of his strength.
Well, he won a 15-round decision anyhow, but Sugar could not have told you whether the fight or what preceded it was the more arduous.
For good taste, the Piatigorsky chess tournament now under way in Los Angeles probably has never been surpassed in chess history. It is being run with elegance in the big mirrored Embassy Room of the Ambassador Hotel. It involves a month of courtly play by eight famous chess masters—including Russia's exotic new world champion, Tigran Petrosian. Its air of refinement is contributed by the gracious Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky, who learned chess at 6 from her father, Baron Edouard de Rothschild of the Parisian banking family. In 1936 she married Gregor Piatigorsky, the Russian-born-cellist, who is usually ranked second only to Pablo Casals.
Two years ago Mrs. Piatigorsky backed an ill-fated 25-game match between Bobby Fischer and Samuel Reshevsky. It ended in a dispute over the starting time of a postponed game. She asked that the game be started in the morning because her husband was playing in an afternoon concert she wanted to attend; Fischer, a notoriously late riser, refused to play in the morning.
No such unseemly squabbling is likely in the present well-bred tournament. Mrs. Piatigorsky set up the Piatigorsky Foundation to promote chess, with prize money of $10,000 (richest in chess history) for the first annual tournament for the Piatigorsky cup. Cost of the event was $40,000. The contenders were welcomed at Mrs. Piatigorsky's charming garden reception, attended by Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty and Hollywood's chess aristocracy. The opening round, with 500 awed spectators, was a smashing social event.
But with all that, the excitement in chess last week was not at the Ambassador: it was at the Wenonah Hotel in Bay City, Mich. There the Western Open, a traditional, shirt-sleeved vacation-and-chess binge, was being held, attended by scores of midwestern, small-city champions who played almost continuously while their wives and children visited the Great Lakes' beaches.
And there, among 161 contenders, was Bobby Fischer, conspicuously boycotting the lush Piatigorsky tournament. Since several strong players entered—Robert Byrne, Arthur Bisguier and Hans Berliner, among others—the level of play was high, and since Byrne, Bisguier, Berliner and Fischer came down to the wire together, the end was tense. By the time Fischer had won the first prize ($750) with seven victories and one draw, the Western Open was challenging the Piatigorsky for attention.
THEY SAID IT
•Sonny Liston, walking out on a performance of the musical Flower Drum Song: "There's too much singing."
•Colonel S. J. O'Connor, Air Force chaplain, concluding the invocation at dedication ceremonies for the Air Force Academy's new golf course: "Before my days are done, I'd love to make a hole in one."