Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall–The First Olympic Athlete to Be Disqualified Due to Anti-Doping Regulations

Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall is a Swedish pentathlete competitor who holds the dubious distinction of being the first Olympic athlete disqualified  under anti-doping regulations.

The Mexico City Olympics held in 1968 were the first to introduce drug testing for medallists, with urine taken and analyzed for narcotics and stimulants. Consequently, these Games saw the first ever drugs disqualification, with the Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall testing positive for excessive alcohol. He had allegedly drunk some beer prior to the pistol shooting to calm his nerves and was later stripped of the bronze medal he went on to win.

The Flip Flopping Genital Olympics

The Verge digs in to the complaints that the FCC received from viewers over the Olympics broadcast. This hilarious complaint from someone in Attelboro, Massachusetts, takes the cake,

In today’s world and what’s considered entertainment it’s very tough to enjoy wholesome programing as a family, from the heavily rotated sexual content on every program to overplayed ED commercials it’s tough to enjoy a program as a family without being uncomfortable. I thought the Olympic try outs last night would provide us the opportunity as a family to enjoy something together. The track and field events are nothing short of minor pornography and should be rated R to NC17 clothing that is to tight exposing male genitals is NOT what I had in mind when sitting with my family last night. Something needs to be done. Less Camera time and Slow Motion Of These Runners flip Flopping their way accross [sic] the finish line. These athletes should be required to wear an ahleletic [sic] supporter or precautions should be put in place by the broadcasting network to create a more comfortable family friendly program

The Man Who Took 54 Years to Complete An Olympic Marathon

Shizo Kanakuri was a Japanese marathon runner who was an Olympic athlete in the early part of the 20th century, and he ran one of the more memorable marathons in history at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. According to Wikipedia,

However, Kanakuri is best known for disappearing during the marathon race in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. The race was held in Sollentuna Municipality, in Sweden, in unexpected 40? C (104? F) heat, and over half of the runners in the event suffered from hyperthermia. Kanakuri, weakened by the long journey from Japan, and suffering from problems with the local food, lost consciousness midway through the race, and was cared for by a farming family. He returned to Japan without notifying race officials. Swedish authorities considered him missing for 50 years before discovering that he was living in Japan and had competed in intervening Olympic marathons. In 1966, he was contacted by Swedish Television and offered the opportunity to complete his run. He accepted and completed the marathon in 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.379 seconds, remarking, “It was a long trip. Along the way, I got married, had six children and 10 grandchildren.”

NBC Olympics Coverage Not Very Diversified

The other night, I put on the Olympics so my daughter could watch the gymnastics competition. I’m not a big fan of gymanstics in the first place, but the problem is compounded by NBC’s continuing use of John Tesh as an annoucer. But that was made even worse by some script writer at NBC who could have used a dictionary.

Tesh is reading a pre-written monologue introducing the American women’s team and the script emphasizes the fact that there are many different ethnic/cultural groups represented on the American team. So John Tesh informs us without missing a beat that the American team is very “diversified.”

What does that mean? That they’ve spread their investments across stocks, bonds and commodities to reduce the risk of their financial position?

The only interesting parts were when John Tesh would make some statement that he obviously thought provided a profound insight to the competition only to be corrected by one of the two people doing color commentary with him.

Performance Enhancing Swimsuits — and Why Not Ban Lance?

It’s kind of hard to understand the justification for banning performance enhancing drugs but allowing all sorts of other performance enhancing technologies. If the major concern is the “integrity of the game,” then high tech swimsuits that reduce drag far more than was possible at previous competitions seems just as unfair as some drug that increases available oxygen. This is why, for example, Major League Baseball has so far resisted using aluminum bats, even though such bats can apparently be configured to have very close to the same properties as wooden bats.

The real kicker there are Nike’s non-goggles — lenses that are affixed to the eye sockets with medical adhesive, eliminating both the protruding nature of goggles as well as the band connecting them to the head. Why not make them permanent and have a Bruce Sterling Olympics?

One of the fascinating things I learned about traditional performance enhancement is how elite cyclists such as Lance Armstrong can actually alter their physiological reaction to lactic acid. As you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles and eventually causes that pain you feel in muscles if you sustain an intense workout.

But using intensive training methods, you can actually raise your body’s tolerance for lactic acid. A number of web sites and news reports suggest that through training Lance Armstrong has an extremely high tolerance of lactic acid — apparently significantly higher than other cyclists (presumably there must be some sort of genetic component to one’s ultimate lactic acid tolerance).

Suppose that tomorrow I invented a completely safe compound whose only major side effect was that it increased your tolerance to lactic acid to the maximum that your genotype allows. Should such a compound be banned? What if I come up with a genetic modification that will push your or Lance Armstrong’s tolerance for lactic acid even further (though not into unsafe ranges)? Would that be cheating?

Perhaps the best answer is a compromise suggested by Gizmodo a few week ago — adding an enhanced category to competitions. So you’d keep the current regimen for non-enhanced athletes, but add an enhanced category without drug or genetic testing and anything goes.


Suit changes take swimmers to new heights. The Associated Press, August 2, 2004.