Spanish Athletics Doping Scandal: Sergio Sanchez Opens Up About Doping in Spain
December 14, 2010
I’ve put together what was written by our indoor silver medalist, Sergio Sanchez, on “El Atleta.com” about the crazy word of doping. Don’t miss out on this because it’s really fascinating stuff.
“There are many types of athletes. There are those who, when they reach a certain point in their career- they’re older, they’re performances have leveled off- they think that the way to get better is to dope. This can happen to a mediocre athlete who might want to make a little bit more money, and it can happen to the most elite athlete. The elite athlete feels the need to continue entertaining their fans and putting up faster times, and perhaps even feels that their bodies can’t do it alone anymore. Of course, when they start thinking like this it becomes a lot easier to turn to doping as the way to hold on to that addictive feeling of being the center of attention.
“The next type of athlete, the kind of athlete I am, is the athlete who, despite knowing about these products and even being offered them, despite seeing teammates who out of nowhere start putting up incredible performances, still manages to stay smart. Talking with teammates it’s common to hear things like “I don’t get it. Last year I was beating him by half a lap and now he’s beating me easily…” I’ve heard this a million times. I know there are teammates that do it, and sometimes you can’t help but see it being done. And going from 20 to 21, and realizing that you’re not making as much money as other people that you know have less natural talent than you, it’s difficult. Still, I’ve managed to not let it get to me. When an athlete turns 23 he starts competing in the senior division. And with this jump in competition, this is where you get eaten alive. I started doing the 1500 meters and I ended up being sixth place in the Spanish Championships in an Olympic year. I ran 3:39 in the 1500 a bunch of times, so of course there are going to be people offering to take you down the wrong path.
“It’s very easy to walk into a doctor’s office with 7000 bucks in your pocket (5000 euros) and tell the doctor that “the time has come to reach my full potential. Do anything you have to do, here are my veins. Just make me into a champion.” I could have done that. But I would have had a short future. With all of the huge advances in science, I’m sure it would’ve been easy to use something and then break 3:39, which I had run off of hard work alone.
“But I kept a cool head, even as I was going through some awful times financially. My parents split up due to some abuse issues in September of 2004 (during the Olympics) and I ended up being basically homeless. I kept on training though. I was doing road races trying to earn 750 dollars a week (500 euros) to try to make the 3300 or so (2500 euros) I needed to each month to live. I lived like that for 2 years. Those who knew what was going on told me that what was happening was a real shame, because I had talent and it was being wasted.
“In March of 2007 my father made me an offer that completely changed everything. He told me this: “Sergio, for the next 4 months I’m going to give you all the money you need to buy food and clothes and pay your rent. But I want you to stop racing and focus on training so that you’ll be ready for the European Championships in July.” I listened and ended up getting second place there. I started earning over $75,000 a year (50.000 euros), began living on my own, and I paid my father back all the money he had given me. Now I’m an elite athlete. And I get a lot of uncomfortable offers from doctors. When a doctor approaches you and before he even begins treating you he asks you a long list of questions like: “Have you ever used anabolic steroids? Have you used EPO? Have you consumed human growth hormone before? Have you taken testosterone?” if you say no to everything, two things happen: 1) He doesn’t believe that you’ve gotten where you are without having ever having taken anything, and decides not to treat you. Or 2) that same doctor gets the idea that you really are a diamond in the rough, and he says, “Man, there’s a ton of room for improvement. With what I can give you, you can become awesome.” When that happens you’ve got to be smart and remember what you’ve accomplished thus far by being completely clean. Look back at the progress you’ve made during the last three years when you didn’t take anything. Though I have to admit it was very different when I met my current doctor. When I entered his office I felt a huge difference. He never once talked to me about doping. He listened to me and asked me what I had used up to now. I told him: vitamins, herbal remedies, B12 a couple of times, etc…
“He told me about a whole program of nutrition and training that to me made perfect sense. And it was obviously the right decision.
“He told me that you begin planning for your next season starting on the very last day of the current one. And that for the first part of your training block you shouldn’t take any vitamins at all. Train like that for around a month and a half. After that, start taking vitamins and natural supplements to help speed up recovery. The body, he explained, responds to stimuli. What an athlete who dopes gains by another use of the drug, I would gain by an injection of iron, or B12. We trained by keeping my body in a state of deficit so that when it finally got what it was lacking I felt more rested and could do harder training and get myself in better and better shape. With doping the process is very different. With doping you can make a huge, sudden jump in performance. But the drugs you take today that are not able to be detected today, they’re going to be able to detect them in a year or two, so you’re not going to be able to keep using them forever. So then you have to try something new. In addition to that doping isn’t exactly good for you and your body’s not going to respond the same way the next time around because you’re going to continue to need larger and larger doses to keep getting results. And then the risk of getting caught increases. Think about all the athletes that get sick and before long they’ve got to take something just to go out and get a loaf of bread. Thankfully those athletes tend to have short careers. When the authorities catch on to them those athletes disappear."
Sergio Sanchez Martinez
More Spanish Doping Translations: Marta Domínguez: "I've Never Dealt Drugs."
*Last Year's European XC Champ Alemayehu Bezabeh Admitted He Was Just About To Transfuse A Bag Of Blood Bezabah apparently thought there was nothing wrong with it and for some reason we believe he's telling the truth. "He told me that he was just about to tap the bag, and when I told him that this was doping and that he couldn't be on the team, he was shocked."
*Jesus España: "It was a well-known secret"