chapter  6
28 Pages

Pharmacological careers in wrestling and weightlifting, 1980s

WithChristophe Brissonneau, Montez de Oca Jeffrey

Chapter 6 looks at how a federation’s dependency upon the state affects the doping careers of sportspeople within those sports. Wrestling and weightlifting are relatively small sports with few elite sportspeople and modest fan bases. As a result, they are economically dependent upon the sport ministry and are located in a single elite sport structure in Paris: The National Sport and Physical Education Institute. State dependence places tremendous importance upon their results in international competitions and the Olympics. After wrestling and weightlifting had poor showings from the 1960s to the 1980s, the executive management of both teams independently decided to create a mandatory pharmacology programme to improve their results. Weightlifters were already familiar with medicalised training and pharmacology from conversations with Eastern Bloc trainers and at intensive training camps, so they were not surprised when the state-mandated programmes occurred. Although they had already seen medical models of training improve results at international competitions, these sportspeople had little choice because refusal to participate could keep a person out of the Olympics and put their future professional lives in jeopardy. Ultimately, this chapter shows how dependence upon the state creates ‘bounded careers’ for elite sportspeople.