Today, the latest edition of TriTime arrived in the post. This is the magazine of the German Triathlon Union. It had a very interesting bit about the state of doping, in light of the Lance Armstrong scandal. The writer is Mike Hamel (TriTime, 01/2014):

“Viel erschreckender ist aber eine neue Studie der Universität Mainz, die aufzeigt, dass mittlerweile angeblich sehr viele Altersklassenathleten in die Dopingschublade greifen. Die Studie ist allerdings sehr umstritten und löste heftige Emotionen in den Sozialen Netzwerken aus. Glaubt man dieser Studie, so wären 19,8% der Teilnehmer beim IM in Frankfurt Dopingsünder. Das wäre eine unglaubliche Zahl. Die Teilnehmer wurden bei den Rennen in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden und Regensburg mit einem anonymen Fragebogen befragt.”

(English version)
“But more frightening is a new study by the University of Mainz, which shows that now many age group athletes are supposedly reaching into the doping drawer. The study is, however, controversial and has sparked strong emotions in social networks. If you believe this study, then 19.8% of the participants at the IM in Frankfurt were doping offenders. That would be an incredible number. The participants were interviewed at the races in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Regensburg with an anonymous questionnaire.”

It’s very good to see that there are studies being conducted about doping by age groupers. I stand by my statements earlier in the year that this presents a much bigger and more complex problem than doping by professional athletes; because for a pro, there is a lot more at stake. For the age grouper, it’s all vanity (https://purathletes.org/2013/06/24/vanity-unfair/). It also just so undermines the beauty of sport. Let’s face it: with all the sponsors, drug-takers, broadcast dollars, mercinary athletes and such, professional sport has lost much of its shine. Down at the amateur level, you’d like to think that people are playing and competing for all the right reasons.

Well, in triathlon, it seems 19.8% are not. I like this number. I reckon it’s just about right. One-fifth of the field. In a triathlon with 200 participants, 40 are on the juice. Maybe they only take stuff when they’re training. Maybe they’re middle-aged guys with low testosterone and a note from their doctor allowing them to get T injections. Maybe they just can only really feel good about themselves if they are 30 seconds faster than last year.

Whatever the maybe, 19,8% is a telling figure. I believe this is the study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0078702



Old man ankles

Well, it’s not yet Christmas and already Project: Aquaman has taken a serious hit. I was making myself run, every day or at least every second day, and while it wasn’t terribly enjoyable, I felt I was improving, and this was motivating. The kilometres piled up.

Unfortunately, it’s all turned to crap, because my basketball-ruined ankles are not up to consistent running. The left ankle went stiff, crunching and crackling as I tried to rotate it. Very painful. I feared loose bone fragments in the joint, as has happened in the past (resulting in two clean up surgeries). Stairs became complex. The foot turned into a kind of brick.Sleeping was uncomfortable.

Off to the doctor for an x-ray. No loose bone, meaning no surgery, but a rather blunt message that running was not the best activity for this ankle. We can do some injections, he said, cortisone and some other procedure explained to me in German which I didn’t fully understand. But the situation would only be improved with no running for a while. Perhaps, no more running at all.

The first, ahem, step is to take a break for a couple of weeks and use the prescription gel on the joint (though this is a bit like waving a feather at a roaring fire, because it does nothing!!!). I can still swim, but my kick is lame and I can’t really push off the wall. The ankle does, however, feel better after swimming, making me recall all those laps I did after all the various operations (4, including the insertion and removal of two screws after a messy break) on said ankle.

As I ruined the ankle (and my lower back) playing high-level basketball (if only for a few seasons), I’m impressed to see guys playing into their late-30s in the NBA; pushing their worn out joints through another 82 game season. How do they do it?

So, Project: Aquaman really is now just about water. For the moment, I’m allowed to swim (too bloody cold for bike riding). But it’s not all bad news; the foot is slowly starting to feel better. I think that the new training program will have to be dialled back, with running only every second or third day. Doc said the cold doesn’t help either.

Ah injuries. This interesting documentary didn’t really make me feel any better, but it’s worth watching. http://vimeo.com/51345348