What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
As we close up shop on the games of the 31st Olympiad, it’s time to reflect on the moments that bring us all together as a species and to celebrate how the spirit of competition can be something that lifts us all as a human race.
And if you think that’s what’s going to happen here, you are a first time reader of this blog…and boy, are you in the wrong fucking place.
If you read the tagline of this blog, it says “what your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions.” That’s EXACTLY how you get a series like “Signs We Are Neat End Of Civilization,” which is EXACTLY how you get a story about an Olympic weightlifter getting caught for shooting strychnine.
You read that correctly. In a world where global athletics revolve around international prestige, geo-political bragging rights, and gobs of fucking money, there are people willing to gain a competitive advantage by juicing with rat poison.
A male weightlifter from Kyrgyzstan became the first athlete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics to be stripped of a medal after a positive drug test. Izzat Artykov tested positive for strychnine after winning the bronze medal in the 69-kilogram division, the Court of Arbitration’s anti-doping division said Thursday. The 22-year-old lifter’s medal was taken away and he was kicked out of the games.
To understand this, I’m need to get all high-school biology on you. Strychnine was first discovered by French chemists Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre-Joseph Pelletier in 1818.
Records indicate that preparations containing strychnine had been used to kill dogs, cats, and birds in Europe as far back as 1640. Strychnine is a neurotoxin which acts as an antagonist of glycine and acetylcholine receptors. It primarily affects the motor nerves in the spinal cord which control muscle contraction.
That’s a big-brain way of saying that even though strychnine is a highly toxic substance commonly used as a rodent-killing pesticide, it also has a long history in sports doping. That’s because when used in non-lethal doses, it is renowned for “speeding up” the twitch of “tired” muscles. It’s not hard to see why that would be attractive to competitive weightlifters. That’s also why strychnine is defined as a stimulant in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances.
It’s that “non-lethal” part which gives me cause for concern. Think of it this way. The Beatles did some incredible stuff on LSD, until we found Jimi Hendrix dead in a bathtub.
Gold record or gold medal, I’m not killing myself for it.