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March 2018

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PROTRACK » GENERAL » The use of performance enhancing drugs in track and field. (1993 Chinese national games)

The use of performance enhancing drugs in track and field. (1993 Chinese national games)

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Running Man

ProTrack Star
ProTrack Star
So I've been doing quite some reading about drug taking in our sport, from when they first started effecting world record performances right up to now. Not sure I've ever seen a thread related to this around here but I find the topic fascinating due to the large amounts of speculation and uncertainty involved. From everything I've come across so far, nothing out there makes you question if athletes were clean more than the performances of several of the female athletes in the 1993 Chinese National Games.

I came across this excerpt from someone who was there that week. I took the liberty of highlighting the absolute must read parts, it was hard not to highlight the whole thing as every line is nearly as unbelievable as the last.

"Beijing Workers' September 8-13 - The shocking showing of the Chinese distance women in Stuttgart was only a prelude to their efforts at the Chinese National Games. By the time the last beam had been broken, six had gone under previous WRs a total of 14 times and experts then world over - those inside the stadium and out; chinese and non-chinese coaches rival to the mercurial Ma Junren; and of course the entire world's press - were shaking their heads in stunned disbelief (see p.4).

The meet began hot and stayed that way. On day one, Wang Junxia, the Stuttgart 10K champ, followed veteran Zhong Huandi for more than 17 laps of the 10,000. Zhong had passed halfway in 15:05.69, and five laps later they were still on even pace to challenge lngrid Kristiansen’s WR 30:13.74 from ‘86. Wang, running well within herself, finally unleashed her kick with 3000 remaining. She tore through the next kilo in 2:45.6, and followed with a 2:44.9. She needed to run her last kilo in only 3:28.9 to break the mark, but hammered a 2:46.9 to finish in an historic 29:31.78, continuing to run, with arms raised, after the finish. Zhong, a half lap behind, came home in 30:13.37, also under the record. The third placed finisher, Stuttgart 3000 silver medallist Zhang Linli, finished outside 31 minutes.

Wang’s performance put the world on notice that more records would follow. She had run her last 5000 in 14:26.0, well under Kristiansen’s WR 14:37.33. Truly unbelievable was Wang’s last 3000, clocked by Omega in 8:17.47, more than five seconds faster than Tatyana Kazankina’s WR from ‘84. Wang and her compatriots had more races to run. Hoever Two days later, in the heats of the 1500, she ran 4:01.55 Stuttgart 3000 champ Qu Yunxia led the qualifiers at 3:59.38; the 12th and slowest qualifier ran 4:02.44 The next day, teammate Liu Dong acted as rabbit in a planned assault on Kazankina’s WR 3:52.47 - a mark that had stood for 13 years.

Liu, the World 1500 champ, embarked on an ambitious pace that favored her more talented training partners. She hit 400 in 57.1, 800 in 2:00.7, and stepped off the track. Qu took the initiative, with Wang following. They covered the next lap in 64.5. Qu who had earlier run a 1:56.24 for 2nd in the 800 to Liu’s 1:55.54, took advantage of her superior speed to get a meter ahead of Wang. With 200 left, Wang made a last-gasp effort to take the lead, but Qu prevailed. She emerged triumphant with a 3:50.46 WR. Wang also bettered the record with her 3:51.92.

Zhang Linli, 2nd in the Stuttgart 3000, finished well back at 3:57.46. Altogether, 7 women broke 4:00, including 17-year-old Wang Yuan, whose 3:59.81 bettered the WJR she had set in the heats. Three days earlier she had toppled Maria Mutola’s WJR with her 1:57.18 in the 800 heats. A day later, the heats of the 3000 shocked even more. In the first, Zhang Linli and Zhang Lirong both cruised under Kazankina’s WR of 8:22.62, running 8:22.06 and 8:22.44 respectively. It was a WR fated to last only some 14 minutes.

In the second heat, Qu teamed up with Wang Junxia and lesser-known teammate Ma Liin. Training partner Wang Yanfang set the pace for a quick 5:29.43 at 2000 before she faded. As Qu and Wang Junxia gradually sped up, Ma lost contact but did not fade. Wang edged ahead at the finish, her 8:12.19 shattering Zhang’s mark by 9.87. Qu finished just 0.08 back (8:12.27). Ma also ducked under the mark with her 8:19.78.

A day later, Wang and Qu faced each other again to settle the score. This time, no rabbits led the way. Wang moved to the fore and hit 1000 in 2:42.0. She lagged on her next kilo, running 2:47.7 for a 5:29.65, slower than the heat. In her sixth race in as many days, Qu finally found her speed blunted. She could not pull even with Wang, who had unleashed her trademark kick.

On the last lap, the margin grew steadily, and before long it was not a question of who would win; it was how much damage they would do to the record. Wang covered the last kilo in 2:36.4 and crossed the line in a stunning 8:06.11. Qu also broke the mark - by the barest of margins - finishing in 8:12.18. Three others trounced the ghost of Kazankina: Zhang Linli (8:16.50), Ma (8:21.26) and Zhang Lirong (8:21.84). Even the last placed finisher made headlines as 14 year old Yang Ling ran a stunning 8:42.3 for 8th to conclude this most dramatic of weeks in global athletics."

Qu's week:

sept 8th: 1:57.21 2h2
sept 9th: 1:56.24 2
sept 10th: 3:59.38 1h1
sept 11th: 3:50.46 WR
sept 12th: 8:12.27 2h2
sept 13th: 8:12.18 2

Wang's week

sept 8th: 29:31.78 WR (14:26.09 second 5k; 8:17 final 3k)
sept 10th: 4:01.55 2h2
sept 11th: 3:51.92 2
sept 12th: 8:12.19 WR 1h2
sept 13th: 8:06.11 WR (2:36 final km; 3:59 second 1500)

Zhang Linli's week:

8th: 31:16.28 5
10th: 4:01.66 3h2
11th: 3:57.46 3
12th: 8:22.06 WR 1h1
13th: 8:16.50 3

Not only were they running these world record shattering times, they were doing them in succession, back to back days. Now, to this day none of these athletes have actually been caught or come forward. As recently as this year Wang Junxia was inducted into the IAAF hall of fame. Common belief among track fans is not if they took anything, but rather what they took. Others will defend the performances and say they were involved in harsh training regimes which involved 160+ mile weeks. I have to say though that to even train for such distances weekly you'd have to be taking something because normal humans aren't really capable of that. Furthermore all of these athletes had extremely short careers in the limelight and on the world stage with about 2-3 years of competitive ability.

This was just regarding some of the women's distance records though. It's common belief among seasoned track followers that most world records in any event have not come by cleanly. From everything I've read it seems that it's damn hard to actually get caught for drug taking so slipping by undetected is more than possible. A lot could be said about the topic but I'll leave it at this for now as I thought this was one of the most interesting cases to happen so far and a must read for any fan, so if anyone finds interest I'd be happy to discuss other events and incidents.

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