SPORT AND ART


ATLETAS MAYORES

El jueves 15 de octubre de 2009, el diario “El País”, dentro de su suplemento “The New York Times”, publicó un artículo titulado: “FÁRMACOS Y SOSPECHAS PARA ATLETAS MAYORES”.

Transcribo la versión original del New York Times:

FOR ELDERLY ATHLETES, DRUG USE IS A GIVEN, BUT SO ARE THE WHISPERS

By John Leland

Published: August 19, 2009

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C06E7D61231F93AA2575BC0A96F9C8B63&scp=1&sq=FOR+ELDERLY+ATHLETES&st=nyt

In his apartment outside Philadelphia, Frank Levine pulled a list of prescription medications from his refrigerator, his hands shaking slightly. There was metformin HCl and glipizide for his diabetes; lisinopril for his blood pressure; and Viagra.

“I need it,” he said recently.

FRANK LEVINE: Competing in the 5,000 meter run at age 95

FRANK LEVINE: Competing in the 5,000 meter run at age 95

Mr. Levine, who is 95 and has had operations on both knees, in June set the American record in the 400-meter dash for men ages 95 to 99, only to see it broken at the U.S.A. Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships a few weeks later. “Nothing counts unless you’re first,” he said.

Mr. Levine belongs to a generation of track and field athletes who are breaking records for speed, distance and endurance at ages once considered too old for competition. In a sport tarnished by doping scandals, the older athletes raise anew the question of what constitutes a natural body for people who are at an age when drugs are a part of life.

“Who’s 75 years old and not taking medications?” asked Gary Snyder, national chairman of U.S.A. Track & Field’s masters committee, which will oversee more than 100 competitions this year for athletes over age 30.

Most drugs like Mr. Levine’s are not banned for competitors, but some common treatments for asthma, menopause and inflammation contain steroids that can disqualify athletes if they do not get written medical exemptions.

Ray Feick, 77, said he suspected “two or three” peers of using steroids, including one shot-putter who suddenly was able to beat him. “My buddies and I talk about it,” he said. “It’s not fair to the age bracket and not fair to their body. And one by one, they drop out.”

U.S.A. Track & Field, the sport’s governing body, has a zero tolerance policy for doping but does not test for drugs at masters events because it is too expensive – about 0 per athlete and an additional ,000 to take a testing organization to the meet, Mr. Snyder said. But there is testing at the World Masters Championship, which took place this year in Lahti, Finland, in late July and early August.

“When we set records, the Europeans look at us like, ‘Oh sure, so-and-so is taking stuff,’” Mr. Snyder said.

For Rosalyn Katz, 67, a thrower from New York who said she did not take any medications, the question of drug use is irrelevant. On a recent morning, Ms. Katz, a retired school administrator, and her training partner, Neni Lewis, 49, were throwing heavy weights in a city park.

ROSALYN KATZ: Competing in the shot put at age 67

ROSALYN KATZ: Competing in the shot put at age 67

“I don’t think anyone taking asthma medication is going to throw or run any better,” Ms. Katz said. “I think they’re doing it because they can’t breathe.”

Mr. Levine said he did not think his peers took drugs except medicinally.

“You have a whole new crew of people over 70 who are part of the world,” Mr. Levine said. “In 1950, you were old when you were 50. Now, I feel old when I have to use my fingers.”

Of his accomplishments as an older athlete, he said: “I’m disappointed rather than amazed, because my times have slowed up considerably. I feel good. So the body has slowed.”

Even with the camaraderie of older athletes, though, there is distrust. Tom Rice, 81, said he was put off by seeing peers with suspiciously muscular builds.

Thomas Rice, 81, left, Robert Bruce, 81, and Edward Cox, 82, competed in the 100-meter run at a U.S.A. Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships event in East Stroudsburg, Pa., in June.

Thomas Rice, 81, left, Robert Bruce, 81, and Edward Cox, 82, competed in the 100-meter run at a U.S.A. Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships event in East Stroudsburg, Pa., in June.

“I said, how ridiculous is that – they’ve got to be taking something,” said Mr. Rice, who takes Zocor for high cholesterol and hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure, neither of which is banned.

“I can’t even imagine that at this age,” he said. “It’s not the Olympics. Guys get so whacked out that they want to take pills to destroy their health just so they can get a medal that’s a little bit better than they might have earned.”

Yet even for clean athletes, the goal is to exceed what people expect of older bodies. After setting the age-group record in the 400-meter run in 3 minutes 20 seconds at East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on June 27 – Michael Johnson holds the world record at 43.18 seconds – Mr. Levine was elated.

“Everything I can do, I did,” he said. “Every ounce of strength, every mental effort. In my mind, if I knew it was a possibility that I would die because I was speeding or pushing, I think I would do it. Stupidity, but I think that’s true of a lot of athletes.”

Las fotografías son de Ángela Jiménez. podéis ver más fotos y escuchar las declaraciones de los atletas en este enlace:

AT THE TRACK

Athletes competing in the U.S.A. Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships this summer talked about competing at an advanced age.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/08/14/us/20090814-athletes-audio.html


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