Italians runners and coaches have historically been the worste cheaters in distance running. FACT. You're defense of them displays a serious pathology.
Sorry Lanced, I'm not trying to defend Italian athletes or coaches, I don't know anything about them or their practises.
As runners we have all experienced determination to do well in races. I've spent days before a big race psyching myself up, telling myself how important the race is, how hard I've trained and that I'm ready to endure the necessary pain to get that elusive PB. But when it comes to that moment, 3/4 way into the race, when I'm hurting so bad, that little devil on my shoulder too often gets the better of me.
So much of performance is down to performance of the mind, the ability to take pain, will-power etc.
It is logical to me that given the heightened incentives Africans have over Western athletes, that this must be a factor in their success. The stakes are so much higher for them.
And of course they have a much deeper talent pool.
Drugs maybe another factor, but I have no information on this to comment one way or another.