Endurance: PEDs

Shorter: Independent testing is necessary

February, 19, 2013
Lance Armstrong and Oprah WinfreyGeorge Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network/Getty ImagesA positive development, according to Shorter: "Cheaters no longer have control of the narrative."
Few people understand the role of performance-enhancing drugs in endurance sports better than Frank Shorter. The 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist and 1976 silver medalist was an NCAA champ at Yale and is considered by many to be the man who spurred the recreational running boom.

And few people have the insight into the inner workings of PED investigations than Shorter, an erudite intellectual with a law degree who encouraged the development of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and served as its first chairman from its inception in 2000 until 2003.

[+] EnlargeFrank Shorter
AP Photo/Charles DharapakFrank Shorter testified regarding steroid use and the Drug Free Sports Act of 2005 on Capitol Hill.
Ten years after stepping down from USADA to work on other projects, he's encouraged by the progress to clean up PED use in sports but believes additional independent testing is still necessary.

"I am actually optimistic," Shorter said. "I think of that old adage, 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me' is gaining traction. People are much more aware now. But it won't work without total independence. Otherwise the potential for conflict of interest is always there."

Shorter has been a strong voice for decades, pushing for the need for stricter drug-testing criteria and independent agencies. The 1998 memo he sent to Barry McCaffrey, then the director of Office of National Drug Control Policy, contributed to the formation of USADA in 2000. He was also part of a USOC delegation that attended a 1999 IOC meeting in Lausanne, which led to the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Shorter came close to winning double gold medals, leading the 1976 Olympic marathon in Montreal until getting passed late in the race by eventual winner Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany. Cierpinski, who also won the Olympic marathon in 1980, was later discovered to have been part of a systematic state-sponsored East German doping program.

While Shorter at one point advocated for an official review of past performances of those later implicated in PED use, he brushes aside questions about the past. He's more interested in the future and the fight against drug use in the sports he has long championed. Even off the record, he was careful not to accuse athletes, who, it turns out, he knew were doping.

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