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Soviet Doping Widespread, Report Says : Magazine Claims Athletes Had Secret Lab Near Seoul

March 24, 1989|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — Soviet sports is riddled with steroid use and Olympic athletes even had a secret laboratory on a ship near Seoul to make sure their urine would pass doping tests, a magazine reports.

"On the ship 'Mikhail Sholokhov,' which was docked 60 kilometers from Seoul, there was an area that was probably even more heavily guarded than the reactor on a nuclear submarine," the youth magazine Smena said. "But it held not a reactor, but a $2.5-million laboratory for doping analysis."

Doping begins very early for many Soviet athletes, Smena said. At the last Spartakiad, a national youth Olympics, dozens of cases of drug-use were discovered, the magazine reported.

The magazine quoted an athlete who claimed that she and her teammates were given drugs by the team doctor and told they were vitamins.

"They knew what kind of 'vitamins' these were," said the athlete, who asked not to be identified. "And that if you refused, you'd be thrown off the team. . . . Now I'm practically an invalid . . . constant pains . . . my whole hormonal system is destroyed, my health is ruined . . . and my life is still ahead of me. I would have liked to become a mother."

Drug use among athletes has long been hushed up in a "pact of silence," the magazine said, and the officials charged with controlling it are more interested in racking up the maximum number of medals.

The article listed several cases when Soviet athletes suddenly bowed out of competition, claiming injury or illness when actually secret tests revealed telltale signs of drug use in their urine.

At the Winter Olympics in Calgary, it said, Soviet skier Allar Levandi did very well in the trials, but then his trainers told him, "You've suddenly gotten a terrible stomachache, you understand?"

Similar withdrawals following positive test results occurred repeatedly this decade at international competitions in track and field, pentathlon and weightlifting, Smena said.

Soviet athletes not only use anabolic steroids, they also sell them, it said.

The best-known recent case involved speed skater Nikolai Gulyaev, who was accused of selling steroids at a competition in Innsbruck, Austria. In 1984, Canadian customs agents nabbed two Soviet weightlifters with steroids.

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