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Espn and steroids: The great hypocrisy

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  • Espn and steroids: The great hypocrisy

    ESPN AND STEROIDS: THE GREAT HYPOCRISY
    Network aired World’s Strongest Man starting on December 30, 2012 and for several weeks after despite overwhelming information about rampant steroid use on the show

    By AL THOMPSON

    When Republican Party Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney appeared on ESPN at halftime of Monday Night Football on the eve of the Presidential election, Romney said his biggest concern for sports in the future revolved around the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

    "We've seen some of the greats in the world come down off their pedestal because of performance-enhancing drugs," said Romney, who successfully ran the 2002 Winter Olympics. "We have to continue to battle that. We have to make sure our technology keeps up with the people that are trying to skirt around the law.”

    Romney for sure was not aware that he was appearing on the network that annually airs the Holy Grail competition for Steroid Nation, “World’s Strongest Man” which has aired hundreds of times over the years on the ESPN family of networks and is owned by IMG World, one of the biggest and most powerful sports entities on the planet.

    It is hard to believe that as we approach 2013, a television network as popular and successful as ESPN, a media outlet as trusted as ESPN as well as its equally successful partner, IMG World would feel the need to air a show that clearly glorifies and promotes the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.

    Make no mistake, there is no gray area, steroid use is rampant among competitors on “World’s Strongest Man” and has been, and still is, condoned, even encouraged, by those who run the show and the sport itself.

    It is disturbing that elected officials and even government employees have been involved in promoting this event – long after rampant drug use was made public.

    I have promoted pro-level strongman shows, and over the years I have spoken to many competitors who – now that they are retired - say drug use is so rampant and unchecked that many competitors are now taking various steroids at suicide levels, Human Growth Hormone and EPO, in many cases all at the same time.

    I have tracked no less than six serious competitors who have died ( updated as of April 22, 2014 the death toll is at nine American Competitors), in their prime since 2000: two who had recently competed on the show at the time of their death and four others who were trying to qualify for the show.

    Attempts to talk to IMG have been ignored. I sent information and identities of four of the dead Americans to IMG and ESPN. I have received no response. By its actions, it is clear IMG is fine with steroid use with its competitors.

    Several ESPN on-air talent and producers have privately said they do not want the show on ESPN because of the drugs and hypocrisy it has created as ESPN routinely admonishes athletes who get caught using drugs, calling them “cheaters” then pops on “World’s Strongest Man” earning millions of dollars over the years.

    Those same people say they do not make the decisions on what ESPN broadcasts but privately support this effort to get the show off its own network.

    ESPN aired the latest competition – taped in Los Angeles September 2012 – starting on December 30, 2012 with many hours of the program for several weeks after.

    What is also disturbing is that IMG has a policy to ask foreign governments as well as American State and local governments for tourism funding for what is actually a televised weightlifting contest.

    It is policy for IMG World to seek public funding for “World’s Strongest Man” every year.

    Taxpayers in West Virginia contributed to the show that was held in 2008 in Charleston and hosted by then-governor Joe Manchin (now a U.S. Senator) who appears on the show several times.

    Here is a link to the West Virginia government website announcing the broadcast dates of the “World’s Strongest Man” TV Show in 2008 and 09.

    http://www.wv.gov/news/governor/Page...mpetition.aspx

    If you read the press release, you will see it refers to Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland as a welcomed competitor for the West Virginia competition. This past July, Pudzianowski – who won the West Virginia competition - is quoted in an article about strongman published in the New Yorker Magazine in July 2012 and written by Burkhard Bilger.

    Bilger: In 2004, when Mariusz Pudzianowski, the dominant strongman at the time, was asked when he’d last taken anabolic steroids, he answered, “What time is it now?”

    Not only did IMG and ESPN not discipline Pudzianowski – who has received more face time over the years on ESPN than virtually every pro athlete in the Country – for his comments, but freely allowed him to compete on “World’s Strongest Man” four more times (winning three more championships), and eventually inducted him in the IMG/WSM Hall of Fame.

    Requests for funding information sent to various tourism and event agencies throughout West Virginia have come up empty. One official said the information was “missing.” Most of the responses were to send me to another department.

    Several requests for information and comments sent to Senator Manchin’s office about the drug use on “World’s Strongest Man” and public funding figures have been ignored.

    Requests sent to IMG to find out how much public funding it took in for the production of “World’s Strongest Man” in 2008 (West Virginia), 2011 (North Carolina) and 2012 (Los Angeles) have been ignored.

    The North Carolina Department of Tourism did report back to me that they had considered purchasing a media buy for $60,000.00 from IMG in 2011 for “World’s Strongest Man” but declined after I sent that department information about the drug use, integrity issues with the officiating and other inappropriate activities by those running the show for IMG.

    The tourism department would not confirm the information I sent was the exact reason for declining the media buy but it is evident it was a factor.

    IMG did look for other public funding in other areas in North Carolina including Rockingham whose taxpayers were asked to spend $10,000 for a taping that took place at Rockingham Speedway. I do not have information whether IMG got the funding although a segment was taped there.

    Baseball is formally a public trust and NFL fans look at their home team as a public trust.

    I believe journalists from ESPN have forfeited their privilege to vote players into the Hall of Fame for Major League Baseball and the NFL.

    Those journalists get paychecks that contain revenue from “World’s Strongest Man.” And thus are in a conflict of interest. How can a journalist vote for players from the steroid era if they make money from steroid-driven programming?

    The competitors on “World’s Strongest Man.” Are all adults and made the decision to take drugs and put their lives in danger, but ESPN reaches at least 99 million households in the United States alone, 600 million worldwide (according to IMG’s media buy proposal).

    Ten to 12 year-old boys watching the show do not know any better. They watch the show and some become fascinated with becoming the World’s Strongest Man, get involved with training only to find out as they climb the ladder that the only way to get on “World’s Strongest Man” is to ingest massive amounts of illegal drugs.

    I believe all elected officials including President Obama, who were voted into office for the purpose of providing mentoring and guidance to our youth should re-evaluate having anything to do with ESPN until such time as “World’s Strongest Man” is drug-tested or off the air.

    In 2005 Congress stepped in and – because of baseball’s unique status as a public trust – to put pressure on baseball to test for performance enhancing drugs – and it worked.

    North Carolina State Representative Craig Horn and Pennsylvania State Representative Paul I. Clymer have added their names to a petition to clean up “World’s Strongest Man”

    It can work again, but someone at the Federal level has to take that first stand to get the ball rolling.
    Last edited by Al Thompson; 05-21-2014, 07:26 PM.

  • #2
    Good article...

    One thing about ESPN, if they stopped showing all sports where people were using drugs, they would have no programming. I'm afraid it's everywhere..
    ------
    Dave

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    • #3
      Dave, You read my mind! Look at basketball, when did all the extreme ectomorphs get the cannon ball deltoids and billboard backs?! Pro sports is now about a "package" that includes extreme physical appearance, it's not just about the sport anymore, it's also about some kind of vicarious wish fulfillment. Very odd. Some sports (basketball) have developed a homoerotic performance art air about them that's very off putting, at least for me.

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      • #4
        There is a good deal of opinion in your article presented as fact. Point after point says you did not get a reply (any??) from those you contacted re funds given yet you state said funds WERE given - how so??

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        • #5
          There's drug use now in nearly all pro sports from football to athletics . There will be nothing to watch, perhaps bowling .

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          • #6
            Go read the list of banned drugs - most of us would flunk a drug test every time we have a good head cold or flu etc. And depending on the sport many drugs that are life saving (like beta blockers) are banned depending on the sport. Most people think "steroids" when we think PEDs but in reality there are tons of things people take to perform better or are at least on the banned list - the list is enlightening to say the least. I climb with an MD - he had to tell me what lots of the items even were or did. Everyone should read it - almost all of us have been guilty at one time or another. Some things have gotten better - years ago my Synthroid (thyroid drug) would have kept me out (or had to get an exemption) - now there's no mention of it. Asthma - you're probably out - lot's of other common things on there as well. It takes a doctor to even know whats going on with it.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Joe Keenan View Post
              Some sports (basketball) have developed a homoerotic performance art air about them
              Huh? What does this mean? (I meant to put just Huh, but I had to post at least ten characters!)

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              • #8
                I would think it pretty obvious, the sculpted bods, hyper masculinity, hanging on a rim after a dunk, legs spread wide and doing pelvic thrusts into the camera. Looks gay to me. And what's with the tongue lolling about, why does it seem to slide out of the mouth so? None of the guys I played with when I ran ball as a kid had a problem keeping their tongue ensconced in their mouth. The whole product is very la cage aux folles, the only thing missing is Harvey Fierstein.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Al Thompson View Post
                  ESPN AND STEROIDS: THE GREAT HYPOCRISY
                  Network aired World’s Strongest Man starting on December 30, 2012 and for several weeks after despite overwhelming information about rampant steroid use on the show

                  including President Obama, who were voted into office for the purpose of providing mentoring and guidance to our youth should re-evaluate having anything to do with ESPN until such time as “World’s Strongest Man” is drug-tested or off the air.

                  ^^^This is not why they were voted into office.They were voted into office to constitutionally govern the country. Nothing more.^^^


                  In 2005 Congress stepped in and – because of baseball’s unique status as a public trust – to put pressure on baseball to test for performance enhancing drugs – and it worked.

                  North Carolina State Representative Craig Horn and Pennsylvania State Representative Paul I. Clymer have added their names to a petition to clean up “World’s Strongest Man”

                  It can work again, but someone at the Federal level has to take that first stand to get the ball rolling.

                  The government has absolutely no right telling pro sports how to run their business.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Joe Keenan View Post
                    I would think it pretty obvious, the sculpted bods, hyper masculinity, hanging on a rim after a dunk, legs spread wide and doing pelvic thrusts into the camera. Looks gay to me. And what's with the tongue lolling about, why does it seem to slide out of the mouth so? None of the guys I played with when I ran ball as a kid had a problem keeping their tongue ensconced in their mouth. The whole product is very la cage aux folles, the only thing missing is Harvey Fierstein.
                    Joe,

                    Your comments are ridiculous. You're obviously ignorant of the broader culture of college athlethics and straight college males in general--"sculpted bods" something that is homoerotic? Give me a break. Guys try to get "ripped" to impress girls. Hyper-masculinity is all part of that culture--that's why they puff out their chests and talk about physically assaulting "f-gs" all the time. Pelvic thrusts--to shame the one they just dunked on, to show he's a girly man.

                    Joe, I assure you that a good number of college and pro basketball players hate homosexuals. On the other hand you have a man like Charles Barkley, who doesn't give a rat's azz about gays.

                    As for Harvey Fierstein, he's a great actor. He gives a very touching performance in Torch Song Trilogy. But he's never impressed me as one who would be very good at basketball--not tall enough.

                    Todd

                    Yes, this is getting way off topic. I'm just not interested in hearing about people's prejudices on this forum.
                    Sorry.

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                    • #11
                      And Joe, one more thing, more on topic--

                      College and pro basketball players do lift weights. It makes them stronger, especially in the upper body, which is so very important for the style of game that is played these days.

                      No, they probably aren't much into building bulk. It prevents them from jumping as well, which is an important skill for a basketball player.

                      So, if an ectomorph lifts weights, is not interested in getting bulky, what will be the result?

                      Pretty much what you see on the court these days.

                      As for the behavior--competition is pretty much hyper-masculine, and taunting your defeated opponent has always been part of it--regardless of what your peewee and secondary school coaches tell you.

                      Todd

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                      • #12
                        I've spoken to a couple ESPN journalists that I know about
                        ESPN "enabling" drug culture by showing "chocked
                        full of drugs" WSM... they are hep to what's happening but
                        WSM programing is just filler and nobody there takes
                        it for anything more. With CBS, NBC and FOX now having their own
                        "sports channels"(with ESPN-like programing) you'll see even
                        more "sports filler" programing... (and wasn't WSM originally
                        a take-off on "Battle of the Network Stars" and "Super-stars"?)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kim Wood View Post
                          I've spoken to a couple ESPN journalists that I know about
                          ESPN "enabling" drug culture by showing "chocked
                          full of drugs" WSM... they are hep to what's happening but
                          WSM programing is just filler and nobody there takes
                          it for anything more. With CBS, NBC and FOX now having their own
                          "sports channels"(with ESPN-like programing) you'll see even
                          more "sports filler" programing... (and wasn't WSM originally
                          a take-off on "Battle of the Network Stars" and "Super-stars"?)
                          I noticed that WSM was on the more respected "ESPN" instead of ESPN2" recently. Why? Because it was during the NFL Playoffs. It probably serves as "excellent" filler, maybe even perfect. People who want macho but don't want to watch football that day, a great idea. During 2012, I don't think I ever saw it being shown in the wee hours of the morning the way it used to be, so it may be on the decline even as filler.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Chris James View Post
                            There's drug use now in nearly all pro sports from football to athletics . There will be nothing to watch, perhaps bowling .
                            Don't bowlers take banned beta-blockers?

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                            • #15

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                              • #16
                                Hello Randall,
                                think we hot our wires crossed, bowling in the UK is lawn bowls usually played by the elderly.
                                not tenpin !

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Chris James View Post
                                  Hello Randall,
                                  think we hot our wires crossed, bowling in the UK is lawn bowls usually played by the elderly.
                                  not tenpin !

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Todd, I know athletes in all sports lift weights, I just believe a bunch of Kevin McHales' morphing into Conan the Barbarian is unlikely. Tall skinny guys don't develop Imaro like physiques. Also, hanging on a rim after a dunk, chucking a spread and then doing a pelvic thrust into the camera is gay. I like college ball, I can watch that, the pro game is just off the wall to me.

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                                    • #19
                                      How a correctly ordered heterosexual man dunks:

                                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5YfeZZqCaI

                                      Notice athletes posture as he executes the dunk and behavior after. In particular, note the, "I've been here before" attitude affected by the athlete. No histrionics as he dunks over Walton. Just a guy doing his job.

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                                      • #20
                                        Randy:if 100% of the participants in WSM take drugs
                                        (and granted it's more entertainment than sport)
                                        no matter the size of the "sports entertainment spectacle"
                                        it's in first place or tied for first relative to drug saturation...
                                        the WSM is dirty.

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