I was appalled when I read the special report by Bjarne Rostaing and Robert Sullivan on blood doping by some members of the 1984 U.S. Olympic cycling team (Triumphs Tainted With Blood, Jan. 21). But I was even more appalled by the attitudes of team technical director Ed Burke and team manager Mike Fraysse concerning the matter.
Burke says, "You know where we were in the dark ages. You know where we are now," as if blood doping were some miracle innovation, and we should all rejoice in its discovery. Blood doping is dangerous and unethical. If I were a cyclist, I would reject it instantly. To me, winning is nothing if I can't do it on natural ability.
Fraysse says "We've been looking into this stuff for years and years and years. We weren't gonna fall behind the Russians or East Germans any more." So instead we'll just stoop to their level of immoral and artificial ways of winning, eh, Mike?
Chapel Hill, N.C.
I am 13, and my dream is to be a part of the 1992 Olympic cycling team. I look up to our 1984 team and, most of all, to coach Edward (Eddie B.) Borysewicz. Even so, I think blood boosting is wrong. There probably is a greater chance of getting sick from blood packing than there is of getting extra energy from it. Athletes are not machines.
February 4, 1985
Thank you for the informative article on our Olympians who resorted to blood boosting in the '84 Games. Competitive sports would be much better off if all athletes refrained from such activities. Then the athlete who best conditioned himself through hard, honest training would be victorious. Besides, how can any athlete find gratification in winning an event or setting a record when he or she relies on an artificial means of improving performance?
THOMAS V. WILLIAMS
Maybe a few words should be added to the Olympic credo: "No additives, no preservatives, no artificial anything."
BERNARD P. MCGOVERN
As cyclists, we thank you for your coverage of Olympic cycling. We hope you will continue to show the American people this sport. On the other hand, we hope that you, as sports-minded people, will take a second look at the blood-boosting issue.
Many artificial means of enhancing performance are accepted by cyclists, including aerodynamic helmets and wheels, vitamin injections and some carbo loading. Where does it stop? Will all athletes be asked to quit the intense training programs that they presently follow simply because one athlete may gain an advantage over another?
MIKE F. HUNTINGTON
SCOTT A. STRECKER
Once again the U.S athlete is hanged—not by the world, but by his own people. I am not making a judgment as to whether blood boosting is right or wrong. That is a decision to be made by a duly appointed committee of medical and technical people. My blood pressure rises (without boosting), however, when people like Dr. Irving Dardik, director of the USOC investigative committee, throw verbal brickbats at Americans but do nothing about the worldwide problem.
If the IOC decides that blood boosting is illegal, let it declare it so. I'd love to know how the IOC would enforce such a rule.
JOHN H. SHUE
I'm not advocating blood boosting, but what's all the excitement about? I've worked in hematology labs for the better part of 12 years, and it's a well-known fact among hematologists that you can get a blood-boosting effect by training at high altitudes, such as those found in the Rockies near Colorado Springs (about 6,000 feet), site of a U.S. Olympic training center. Higher altitude means lower oxygen tension. This causes hypoxia, which in turn causes the body to produce more red cells to compensate. At 6,000 feet, you could expect the red-cell count to rise over a period of weeks about as much as if the athlete were given a unit of red cells.
What would the guardians of "natural" sports like to do? Require everyone competing to train at the same altitude? Maybe the USOC should be accused of blood boosting for establishing a training center at 6,000 feet.
STEROIDS AND BUTE
After reading Bill Brubaker's special report A Pipeline Full Of Drugs (Jan. 21) and passing it on to local sports buffs, I was disturbed by their self-righteous reaction concerning the coaches and pharmacist accused of illegally distributing drugs [anabolic steroids and phenylbutazone] to athletes at Clemson and Vanderbilt. Their attitude was, "Once we get rid of the few bad eggs then everything will straighten out." Not so.
As an exercise physiologist who has been working in sports for years, I can assure you that most people can't even imagine the pressure that is placed on top-ranking athletes and their coaches or trainers. Fans scream for more wins, for record-breaking performances; athletic directors lean on coaches; coaches push athletes; athletes push each other. There are jobs, scholarships and professional contracts at stake, and the coach or trainer is often caught in the middle. The people on top say, "Win or else," and the athletes say, "We can't win unless...."
It's tragic that Augustinius Jaspers died, and it's also tragic that four people who were trying to help athletes may have their careers ruined. Before we start assessing blame, it might be prudent to reevaluate our expectations of the athletes and coaches we depend on for our viewing pleasure.
ROBERT H. GORDON, M.ED.
As a flight attendant for Delta, I've worked on many college football charters. This year I was assigned to a flight carrying Vanderbilt from Nashville to Baton Rouge. It was a routine experience—with one exception. Vanderbilt strength coach E.J. (Doc) Kreis chose to sit with the team rather than in first class with the rest of the coaching retinue. Before boarding, he instructed the crew to serve only juices and milk—instead of the sugary carbonated beverages favored by most teams. He distributed printed inspirational material for his players to ponder during the flight. It was obvious to me that this was a man who genuinely cared about the mental and physical well-being of his players.
At the risk of oversimplification, I suggest that Kreis's alleged involvement in the distribution of the drugs is a product of the public's demand for Herculean bulk and strength in young men whose time must be divided among the classroom, the playing field and the weight room. It is unbelievable that such a conscientious person would be a figure in a drug-distribution scheme at the expense of the young men he so obviously nurtures.
THE BYU CONNECTION
It was interesting to see how much print was devoted to predicting the winner of Super Bowl XIX when it was obvious that the 49ers would be the victors. For the past five years only one of the teams in the Super Bowl has had players who attended Brigham Young, and each year that team has won:
in the history of the Hay Capital of the World" (Aug. 9, 1971); Hardy, another three-sport star, of Bingham (Utah) High (April 29, 1974); and Carpenter, of Peabody, Mass. and St. John's Prep of Danvers, Mass.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.