Chinese female world records


Normally open July 4th only---the one day a year when partisan politics, religion, etc. are acceptable topics on this Board (within reason). The forum is now closed.

Chinese female world records

Postby nokick » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:44 am

Who thinks they are legit?
nokick
 

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:20 am

If you're after controversy, this ain't the subject. No one with any grey cells at all takes those times seriously.
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bad hammy » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:50 pm

Bueller, Bueller??
bad hammy
 
Posts: 10880
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby rasb » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:11 pm

I'm not sure if my"matter" is grey or not. Certainly the hair surrounding it is gradually turning a distinguished grey :)
But I do have a brain, and over 40 years experience of coaching distance runners, from beginners to Olympians, and everything in between. I was fortunate enough to have me and talked with many of the World's best distance runners and coaches during that time period, and believe I understand the sport of distance running quite well...
And I have no idea how to explain the Chinese phenomenon. None, whatsoever....
When some of them did show up at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, they seemed to make most of the rest of the World's runners look decidely second class. How do you explain that?
I really would like to know what they were doing, other than the stuff that the African distance runners are currently doing to most of the rest of the World...
Any thoughts?
rasb
 
Posts: 2008
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:48 pm
Location: South of the 49th

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby gh » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:14 pm

my take is that with a monstrous population from which to choose (and the political system with which to implement it), they were able to selectively find women who were at the utmost upper end of the legal-testosterone scale. It's the only explanation that makes sense.
gh
 
Posts: 46314
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:31 am
Location: firmly at Arya's side!

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:25 am

rasb wrote:When some of them did show up at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, they seemed to make most of the rest of the World's runners look decidely second class?


It was the '93 Worlds. Only Qu got a medal in '92 (Bronze in the 1500m).
Flumpy
 
Posts: 3899
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:46 am

gh wrote:my take is that with a monstrous population from which to choose (and the political system with which to implement it), they were able to selectively find women who were at the utmost upper end of the legal-testosterone scale. It's the only explanation that makes sense.


This is a really interesting theoy that I've never heard before. If this is the case then the records would be perfectly legitimate.

I have always assumed that they were clearly extremely talented athletes, who had been forced to train incredibly hard and had no fear or proper understanding of what the limits should be. Western women at the time considered Ingrid's WR to be completely unbreakable. If someone ran under 31 mins we considered it to be a sensational run. Wang just ran as fast as she could for as long as she could with no knowledge of the fact what she was doing was supposed to be impossible.

I also think they took vast amounts of illegal substances with no interference from drug testers (Are we allowed to say that about these athletes??? Even today???).

I like your theory more and hope it's the truth.

After all these years surely someone would be able to shed light on what actually happened. Whilst no one wouldn't expect Ma or Wang to come forward and admit to anything illegal they were doing there must have been plenty who know the truth and you would assume that something would have leaked by now.
Flumpy
 
Posts: 3899
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Pego » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:58 am

gh wrote:my take is that with a monstrous population from which to choose (and the political system with which to implement it), they were able to selectively find women who were at the utmost upper end of the legal-testosterone scale. It's the only explanation that makes sense.


There is an alternative possibility. They did not run the full length of the distance. We have had attempts to cheat even at some international meets, let alone something without any independent observers (jumps, throws for instance). Or both options are in play :wink: .
Pego
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: beyond help

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:55 am

Right. I think very likely there were drugs and/or testosterone manipulation going on, but I can't see that as really being the one and only answer, or that '93 "success" would have been replicated again, somewhere, somehow. I'm also for the short-track or faulty timing theory. One may say that the men's times weren't all that great at the meet, but so what? The men were simply lousy, while the women were--clearly--exceptional, that can't be doubted. But I just can't believe the gang of them were THAT exceptional. The wholesale slaughter of the all-time lists, day after day, by some of the same athletes, and by others that we never heard of again, just got to be--literally--unbelievable. I remember at the time that some commentators said that the women's records had been very "soft" and the '93 results were simply a natural progression. That seemed like baloney at the time, and after 17 years, is obviously baloney.

When a set of performances has NO historical precedent whatsoever, and--after 17 years--hasn't been remotely approached in any other context, something is very wrong.

Truthfully, I'd wager that we'll never have a real or satisfying answer to this.
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby mump boy » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:18 am

kuha wrote:Right. I don't really buy the "drugs" angle because that '93 "success" would have been replicated again, somewhere, somehow. I'm for the short-track theory. One may say that the men's times weren't all that great at the meet, but so what? The men were simply lousy, while the women were--clearly--exceptional. The wholesale slaughter of the all-time lists, day after day, by some of the same athletes, and by others that we never heard of again, just got to be--literally--unbelievable. I remember at the time that some commentators said that the women's records had been very "soft" and the '93 results were simply a natural progression. That seemed like baloney at the time, and after 17 years, is obviously baloney.

When a set of performances has NO historical precedent whatsoever, and--after 17 years--hasn't been remotely approached in any other context, something is very wrong.


i do think there is some truth in the fact the the records were weak and it is a shame that there has been little effort to beat the 10k record ever since. in 02 Paula could have gone well under 30 in a race with some help considering she ran 30.01 completely by herself in the rain. Untill very recently, all the fastest times had been set at major champs. If WR attempts had been set up for, Tula, Wami, Radcliffe, Adere, Dibaba, Defar, Abeylegesse etc etc 29.30 would not be looking so outlandish
Last edited by mump boy on Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
mump boy
 
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: saaaaaarf london

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:24 am

But a short track doesn't explain there wholesale destruction of all comers at the 93 Worlds.

Didn't Liu Dong run the last 800m of the 1500m in something like 1.56!!!

Her last lap is ridiculous, you don't just run away from Hassiba and Sonia like that :shock:

A short track and get you fast times but it can't make you into a world beater.
Flumpy
 
Posts: 3899
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:44 am

Flumpy wrote:A short track and get you fast times but it can't make you into a world beater.


I tried to be very clear that it's the sum total of the performances that makes it all unbelievable to me. There is NO question that these runners were of exceptional talent; thus, I'm not at all surprised that one or two of them did well against the rest of the world. It's the full week's performances in '93--day after day, with all the athletes involved--that really, truly stinks and which defies rational explanation.

And I really do NOT buy the idea that the records were "weak" in '93. They were not.
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Pego » Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:33 am

kuha wrote:
Flumpy wrote:A short track and get you fast times but it can't make you into a world beater.


I tried to be very clear that it's the sum total of the performances that makes it all unbelievable to me. There is NO question that these runners were of exceptional talent; thus, I'm not at all surprised that one or two of them did well against the rest of the world. It's the full week's performances in '93--day after day, with all the athletes involved--that really, truly stinks and which defies rational explanation.

And I really do NOT buy the idea that the records were "weak" in '93. They were not.


What a surprise! I fully agree with kuha :D .
Pego
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: beyond help

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:12 am

gh wrote:my take is that with a monstrous population from which to choose (and the political system with which to implement it), they were able to selectively find women who were at the utmost upper end of the legal-testosterone scale. It's the only explanation that makes sense.


So the rest of the world, including the East Germans and Soviets, who seem to spare nothing in their searches for superior athletes and medical manipulations, couldn't find any women at this so-called 'upper' end'? But the Chinese could come up with over a dozen? And their men are crap? That makes no sense at all.

Since there was zero gender testing at the time, that frankly, I don't think they were women at all.
Conor Dary
 
Posts: 6297
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: कनोर दारी in Ronald MacDonald's Home Town, and once a Duck always a Duck.

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Rog » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:23 am

I think they were certainly women and the track was regulation. These performances were staged to gain the world's attention at a time when China was bidding to host the Olympics.

I think the athletes were probably doped and peaked without any thought to a longterm career. I don't believe the Chinese women themselves had any inkling to this, but were convinced by their guru Ma that they could run like deer, as they said at the time. I think this combination indicates why they were so good. If you look at Wang her running action was phenomenal, I've never seen a woman distance runner with such an impressive, efficient action.

I think the most telling thing about this era is a short piece on youtube that shows Qu Junxia, world record holder and world champion, being pushed to the ground by Ma from his motorbike for hot trying hard enough. That is the power he had over them, and the commitment he demanded - and the punishment he meted out for any sort of failure. She was apparently the only member of the original Family Army who stayed loyal to him btw. I can't imagine a western athlete tolerating this treatment.

Btw Liu Dong never ran a 1:56 in a 1500, she ran 1:56 and 1:55 in heat and final of the 800 then paced the 1500 through 57 and 2:01 before dropping out.
Rog
 
Posts: 570
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby mump boy » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:28 am

Rog wrote:I think they were certainly women and the track was regulation. These performances were staged to gain the world's attention at a time when China was bidding to host the Olympics.

I think the athletes were probably doped and peaked without any thought to a longterm career. I don't believe the Chinese women themselves had any inkling to this, but were convinced by their guru Ma that they could run like deer, as they said at the time. I think this combination indicates why they were so good. If you look at Wang her running action was phenomenal, I've never seen a woman distance runner with such an impressive, efficient action.

I think the most telling thing about this era is a short piece on youtube that shows Qu Junxia, world record holder and world champion, being pushed to the ground by Ma from his motorbike for hot trying hard enough. That is the power he had over them, and the commitment he demanded - and the punishment he meted out for any sort of failure. She was apparently the only member of the original Family Army who stayed loyal to him btw. I can't imagine a western athlete tolerating this treatment.

Btw Liu Dong never ran a 1:56 in a 1500, she ran 1:56 and 1:55 in heat and final of the 800 then paced the 1500 through 57 and 2:01 before dropping out.


Flumpy wasn't talking about her run at the chinese games but the WC 1500m final in 93, she didn't run 1.56 for the last 800 but she certainly ran sub 2min
mump boy
 
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: saaaaaarf london

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby nevetsllim » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:32 am

Conor Dary wrote:
gh wrote:my take is that with a monstrous population from which to choose (and the political system with which to implement it), they were able to selectively find women who were at the utmost upper end of the legal-testosterone scale. It's the only explanation that makes sense.


So the rest of the world, including the East Germans and Soviets, who seem to spare nothing in their searches for superior athletes and medical manipulations, couldn't find any women at this so-called 'upper' end'? But the Chinese could come up with over a dozen? And their men are crap? That makes no sense at all.

Since there was zero gender testing at the time, that frankly, I don't think they were women at all.


Even though some of them have given birth since? :?
nevetsllim
 
Posts: 6261
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2005 2:54 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Rog » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:45 am

mump boy wrote:
Rog wrote:I think they were certainly women and the track was regulation. These performances were staged to gain the world's attention at a time when China was bidding to host the Olympics.

I think the athletes were probably doped and peaked without any thought to a longterm career. I don't believe the Chinese women themselves had any inkling to this, but were convinced by their guru Ma that they could run like deer, as they said at the time. I think this combination indicates why they were so good. If you look at Wang her running action was phenomenal, I've never seen a woman distance runner with such an impressive, efficient action.

I think the most telling thing about this era is a short piece on youtube that shows Qu Junxia, world record holder and world champion, being pushed to the ground by Ma from his motorbike for hot trying hard enough. That is the power he had over them, and the commitment he demanded - and the punishment he meted out for any sort of failure. She was apparently the only member of the original Family Army who stayed loyal to him btw. I can't imagine a western athlete tolerating this treatment.

Btw Liu Dong never ran a 1:56 in a 1500, she ran 1:56 and 1:55 in heat and final of the 800 then paced the 1500 through 57 and 2:01 before dropping out.


Flumpy wasn't talking about her run at the chinese games but the WC 1500m final in 93, she didn't run 1.56 for the last 800 but she certainly ran sub 2min


I think she ran the last 700 in about 1:42/1:43, and even with the slow first 800 she would have been about 2min or under for the last 800, yes. She was awesomely impressive, particularly down the final backstretch - she must have covered it in well under 14. It was surprising that she only paced the world record in the People's Games as she must have been capable of a time around 3:50 herself.
Rog
 
Posts: 570
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby rasb » Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:20 am

Sorry, I had a brain fart about the 1992/1993 situation. Obviously, it was the 1993 World Champs. where the Chinese women showed their stuff to the World...
Aside from anything illegal....

1) Large population of young females, mostly from a peasant background, i.e., working hard in the yard to scratch out a living from age 3 or whatever, pedestrian transport to wherever, so high levels of fitness, strength, and work ethic built in...
2) I don't know the specific numbers, but many of these girls lived at altitude apparently.
3) Women in the Chinese society were totally subservient, and a demagogue such as Ma could ask/order/insist they train until they dropped, and of course they said yes, if they could find a breath to say anything...
4) Ma was obviously a bit unhinged, shall we say, and those that survived his training had to be, by definition, very tough and very fast.
5) In China, the Chinese National Games were apparently more important than the Olympic Games, as it was an honour to win in your Motherland, an honour that yourselves and your families would share forever.
6) If my understanding is correct, many of these young women were taken away to train full time with Ma during their early teens, a time when it is possible to really alter the body's
physiological capacities, as growth is still occurring, and some vital capacities are yet to be established.

There are probably others, but I think that as a Canadian for instance, if I was a "Ma",
and did the same with all the Canadian women that have run between 4:00 and 4:06 for 1500 metres, I could certainly have produced some sub 3:55 performances, at the very least, and who knows how much faster. And that's with a Country of only 33 million...

So, not saying there wasn't more happening, just saying there are some pretty good reasons why these women might run very fast.
rasb
 
Posts: 2008
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:48 pm
Location: South of the 49th

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Pego » Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:54 am

Rasb, everything you said above makes sense. My problem is that all those parameters should produce a self-perpetuating program of high-quality individuals (probably of both sexes). This did not happen. Ma's Army was a short-lived phenomenon.
Pego
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: beyond help

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:06 am

Pego wrote:Rasb, everything you said above makes sense. My problem is that all those parameters should produce a self-perpetuating program of high-quality individuals (probably of both sexes). This did not happen. Ma's Army was a short-lived phenomenon.


Absolutely correct. It is a historical phenomenon with no precedent, and nothing remotely similar since then to back it up.
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby rasb » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:31 am

In answer:

1) Complaints about Ma caused his early "demise". I think he was a unique, almost "one-of-a-kind" demagogue, whose total lack of caring for his athlete's personal health, combined with his enormous ego, combined with a solid knowledge of distance running, combined with a personality that interfaced with these young girls needs, and produced unbelievable performances... I think he controlled their diets, and I'm if I did that, there would be lots of iron rich foods, especially during puberty and afterwards, and appropriate C and B vitamin rich foods to enhance absorption. That would help to supercharge his athletes....
Now whether they blood-doped to add even more to that effect, I don't know.... Personally, I think the hemacrit would become so thick in the bloodstream, that not only would effects be negative, but people would dying or permanently damaged, particarly in cardiac function...
An interesting study would be to track down the women who ran those times, and have an independent assessment of their current cardiovascular systems, and whether they are damaged, or relatively "normal" It would also be interesting to know what their current iron status is --- I wonder if serum ferritin levels, for instance, could be elevated for life...
2) Men wouldn't put up with being treated like that, and Ma figured that quickly, and didn't bother with them....
rasb
 
Posts: 2008
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:48 pm
Location: South of the 49th

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:23 am

nevetsllim wrote:

Even though some of them have given birth since? :?


If true, I wouldn't even bet it is the same person. Frankly the whole episode was so bizarre that on face value I don't believe any of it.

Remember the real nonsense was all in China.
Conor Dary
 
Posts: 6297
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: कनोर दारी in Ronald MacDonald's Home Town, and once a Duck always a Duck.

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby nokick » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:14 pm

It sounds as though there is a lot of doubt. Thanks for answering my original post. These world records have always bothered me.

(1) Short track--I doubt that, the IAAF has the track surveyed.

(2) PED's--this is a whole can a worms that I can't possibly answer. But, when the East German "scientiets" fled after the wall came down and went to China--the same scenario and suspicions came up. The women showed rapid improvement and the men flatlined. It was all done in seclusion and meets with restrictive access from the west. I just don't recall them beling allowed to compete in the West. And, somehow the Chinese alluded a lot of testing that western athletes go through.

Look at the scandals from the Chinese with gymnastics and other sports. There is just a huge shadow of doubt.

On the other hand--the Chinese have a huge population that appear to be good endurance athletes. Let's face it--not a lot of raw speed. And, other than Ma's army having a situation in Sydney--no other charges have proven credible.

I would expect more and more chinese distance runners competing at an international level.
nokick
 

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Jon » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:50 pm

Pego wrote:Rasb, everything you said above makes sense. My problem is that all those parameters should produce a self-perpetuating program of high-quality individuals (probably of both sexes). This did not happen. Ma's Army was a short-lived phenomenon.
That might be because, despite there being billions of Chinese people, there has still only been one Ma Junren; one man crazy and driven enough to attempt to pull something like that off with the right connections and set-up. His ban and bad publicity probably had something to do with this not becoming a self-perpetuating program.
Jon
 
Posts: 9231
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:45 pm

Jon wrote: That might be because, despite there being billions of Chinese people, there has still only been one Ma Junren; one man crazy and driven enough to attempt to pull something like that off with the right connections and set-up. His ban and bad publicity probably had something to do with this not becoming a self-perpetuating program.


The idea that the population of China is huge compared to the rest of the world is a fallacy. BILLION!

The population of China is 1.3 billion. The population of the US and Europe combined is 1.1 billion. So roughly the same.

And what evidence is there of this Great Chinese Endurance? Mao's Long March?

The whole thing in Bejing in 1993 was nonsensical.
Conor Dary
 
Posts: 6297
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: कनोर दारी in Ronald MacDonald's Home Town, and once a Duck always a Duck.

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:04 pm

Conor Dary wrote:The whole thing in Bejing in 1993 was nonsensical.


I have to agree. It stunk to high heaven then, and it all looks even MORE ridiculous in hindsight.
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby rasb » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:01 pm

So, please explain to me and to others, what exactly the Chinese were doing, that was not legal, to achieve those performances. No hyberbole, just the facts, please...
I stand by my earlier statement that in Canada, we could have easily produced a dozen or so women, running sub 4:00, with all the "natural conditions" that have been outlined earlier on this thread, that applied to Ma's Army, and not so much to the rest of the World...
And how did they look so good, at the World Champs. in 1993? I assume the track was the right distance, and I assume the medallists were tested, so ????
Don't just say the times were "ridiculous", tell me what they were doing....I know you can't, and that's kewl.... As a coach of elite female distance runners since the late 1960's, the performances stretched my belief system of course, but under the circumstances that I am aware of, they are not all that "beyond the pale", in my opinion. Certainly not any more so than the current East African dominance...
rasb
 
Posts: 2008
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:48 pm
Location: South of the 49th

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:24 pm

rasb wrote:So, please explain to me and to others, what exactly the Chinese were doing, that was not legal, to achieve those performances. No hyberbole, just the facts, please...


Is it not radiantly clear that us skeptics have no solid "answer" for any of this? It's all guessing, with some guesses more believable than others.

I've expounded on this enough in the last decade or more. I will simply repeat that the week in question has NO historical precedent (if I'm wrong, please point them out) and NOTHING since then has made that week make any more sense. History has had 17 long seasons to "absorb" those performances--and they remain statistical outliers to an extreme, and ridiculous, extent.

It amazes me, but I have no problem in folks "believing" in those marks. However, I don't--at all--and I'm clearly not alone.
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bambam » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:29 am

Conor Dary wrote:Since there was zero gender testing at the time, that frankly, I don't think they were women at all.


Pretty certain there was gender testing in 1992-93. The IOC/IAAF ban on it came along later in the 1990s, I think.
bambam
 
Posts: 3848
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Durham, NC

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bambam » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:32 am

rasb wrote:2) Men wouldn't put up with being treated like that, and Ma figured that quickly, and didn't bother with them....


Also, you can manipulate female physiology more than men's, trying to bring it closer to the male physiology. Not as far to go with the men
bambam
 
Posts: 3848
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Durham, NC

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby 26mi235 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:53 am

Not only were the records to BIG (large cuts), but there were so many that recorded times that even with the fuller influx of Kenyan and Ethiopian women no one has gotten close to the 1500, 3000, and would not be close to the 10,000 if she had run it evenly paced. The records were not soft -- the old 1500m record still has not been bettered except for this one episode.
26mi235
 
Posts: 16315
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: Madison, WI

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Master Po » Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:51 pm

This post will probably kill this thread – not because what I'm offering is so explosive that even the "Free Speech" thread can't handle it, but because, well, that's what MasterPo's posts usually do – they euthanize discussions. But let me try anyway, in the spirit of malice toward none and charity for all, and careful and complex thinking about everything, or at least the constant attempt to do that. First, a whole bunch of disclaimers:

Apologies in advance – probably the longest post I, or most anyone, will ever make. I hope it doesn't crash the system. :D

And I hope someone reads this, and I hope it fosters discussion, but I expect it won't.

I usually don't read the Free Speech Weekend Forum, but I appreciate its presence because it's the only place we can discuss this question in T&F history. I note in reading this thread that there are a dozen posters whose ideas I have tended to pay close attention to over the years: kuha, bad hammy, gh, flumpy, pego, mump boy, conor dary, nevetsllim, rasb, jon, bambam, 26m235. I have learned a lot from reading a lot of your posts, and some of what's posted by some of you on this thread I agree with, but…there's something about this historical question that leads us to stop thinking carefully.

I realize that many of you – and many other posters on these boards – have great T&F credentials, or related credentials: I have none of those. I wasn't an elite athlete, am not a coach, nor physician, nor physiologist, nor esteemed T&F historian, statistician, or journalist. (But I learn from all of you, and others.)

However, I do study China for a living (or at least part of my living). I would not call myself a "China expert" (and I would encourage you to be skeptical of anyone who calls him or herself such). But I think it helps here to have the perspective of someone who does study China, and has done so for years. What I see in Chinese women's athletics does not seem strange or questionable to me, with one major exception (or, to be specific, 3 races in one meet).

In short: I have no problem with the "Chinese women's times" that seem to cause such angst, with the exception of the 1500m heats and final at Shanghai on 17 October and 18 October 1997.

It helps if we stop looking at them as a generic group of "Chinese women's times" and look at them event by event and meet by meet, and athlete by athlete (in some cases). If we were on the other side of the world and looking at the "American sprinters" or "Jamaican sprinters" times or at Kenyan or Ethiopian distance runners generically, or at the marks put up by various northern European throwers of heavy or pointy objects, we wouldn't get very far in our analysis. Let's not do that here.

And, let's also acknowledge that athletics cultures occasionally produce extraordinary athletes who put up extraordinary times – Bolt, Radcliffe, Gebrselassie, El G, and others. In the Chinese women's athletics period of the early to mid-90s, I think there are two.

And, let's acknowledge that some athletics cultures seem to have endless capacities to produce top-level athletes in particular events or clusters of events: Kenya, Ethiopia, USA, Jamaica. It's not surprising when the greatest of the great come out of those cultures with that sort of production (though they don't always, e.g., Radcliffe).

One of the things that surprises me (as one who studies modern China, and who follows T&F, and athletics cultures generally) about the Chinese women's athletics culture over the past two decades or more is that they haven't done better in the distance events. In addition to the 1500m times from 1997, that's what is a real challenge for explanation, at least for me as a student of Chinese culture and its modernization. After 1993, I expected them to be producing top-level distance runners in the way we see them from Kenya and Ethiopia (and to some lesser extent, Japan), but that really hasn't happened. The national meets in Beijing in 1993 and Shanghai in 1997 were something of an exception, but even there, it's only the 1997 1500m that's out of line with history, in the general sense (meaning – sometimes extraordinary athletes – Bolt, Radcliffe, Gebrselassie, Bekele, El G – produce times that are out of line with "history in a general sense" – i.e., they as individuals violate our expectations of how an event usually develop).

In Chinese women's athletics from the period in question, two athletes meet this standard: Junxia Wang, and Yunxia Qu (I'm listing these names in the non-traditional given name-surname order, as they are in IAAF lists.) I wish these would be given their due, but I realize they won't, for a variety of reasons. They are lost to their own culture's restrictions (i.e., contact with press, opportunities to race in Europe, etc.), to language barriers, to the suspicions of outsiders, to the way we see them as one undifferentiated mass, and to the foregone conclusion that someone in some way, cheated.

Chinese women began appearing in WC/OG competitons in the late 80s, with little notice, as they made not a great impact in medals or times. As we all know, 1993 in Stuttgart was their big moment, but other than the surprise it generated among "us," it wasn't that big a deal:

1500m 1. Dong Liu 4:00.50
3000m 1. Yunxia Qu 8:28.71; Linli Zhang 8:29.25; Lirong Zhang 8:31.95
10000m 1. Junxia Wang 30:49.30; Huandi Zhong 31:12.55

A great meet for them, but the times were/are not outrageous, not out of line with other WC/OG winning/medal times, and certainly not of the order of "those people must be cheating." Look at the press from that meet – it's the surprise factor that shapes the interpretation. That, combined with the "we just beat the commies, and now these other commies are taking over" factor.

But as we look at the WC/OG era of the past two+ decades, what we see is – Oh, they had a great meet in 1993. From slightly before and ever since, they're in the mix with every other dominant or consistently present women's distance running culture (Ethiopia, Kenya, Japan, maybe even the USA, etc.) – they get some medals and top 10 finishes. In retrospect, they had a great meet at Stuttgart. They weren't running WRs -- they just won. Kind of like USA distance men in Tokyo 1964 – looked like the USA men were poised for greatness in the distances: two medals in the 5, gold in the 10, 6th in the marathon, and two hs kids who didn't medal but were going to escort us into the great future of distance running prominence, if not dominance. In retrospect, it looks like this – Oh, they had a great meet. Other stuff, and other athletics cultures, happened. History happened. That's what China's women got in the distances in 1993 at Stuttgart.

But what about the Chinese national meets in 1993 and 1997? Isn't that what's messed everything up in the all-time lists, even though it was Stuttgart 1993 that originally made us all bitter and suspicious?

Let's look at this meet by meet and event by event – and keep in mind that part of what I'm arguing is that they produced two fantastic distance runners in this period: Junxia Wang, and Yunxia Qu. Both of whom, frankly, never got all of the opportunities to show their greatness, due to the over-control of the athletes in the Chinese system – but that's part of my argument about the importance of the national championships in Chinese athletics, especially for the women in this time period.

The athletics development system, in the Deng Xiaoping "reform and liberalization" era that started in the early 1980s, was beginning to bear some fruit by the late 80s, and certainly in the early 90s. The athletics development system, the general athletics culture, and the culture for women, has some of the strengths and weaknesses that we see in Japan, in Kenya, in Ethiopia, and in the old USSR (but I don't mean drug/doping culture here) – in some ways, highly organized, and at least identifying talent across the country; in some ways, valorizing the strength of women while allowing them too few opportunities in society to show it; athletics providing an outlet and opportunity for social advancement, not just for the athlete but for her family and community; and so on – there's more to say on this. But the system in China also had some great problems – kind of like a funnel with a very, very wide end, and a far too tiny narrow end. Search the entire country for athletic talent, train them to within an inch of their lives with a promise/hope of glory, and then provide almost no outlets for their talents – they can't race abroad, can't change citizenship, can't hire agents or coaches, can't pursue USA collegiate careers, can't get corporate sponsorship (as in Japan), etc. etc. Out of that huge pool, 3 can go to WC/OG, and that's it. Everyone else is racing "at home" in China. Thus, the national championships became one of the most fiercely competitive meets.

The only analogy I have for this is USA or Jamaica sprinting/hurdling, or Kenya-Ethiopia distance. You have to be incredibly good to make a WC/OG team. But in those cultures, other top athletes can compete internationally, and make a living and life. For the Chinese women—of whom there were many in the system. Hardly anyone would get the chance to compete at WC/OG. Thus, the national meet was – in that period for those distances – very competitive, in an all-or-nothing sort of way.

But even there, we have to identify the exceptions, of two kinds:

--the two exceptional athletes (Wang and Qu)
--the one exceptionally strange event: 1997 Shanghai 1500m

And note these two presumptions on my part – I realize not shared by others: (1) I absolutely expected China to be deep in women's distance talent, as is Kenya and Ethiopia, and as USA and Jamaica are in sprints. Not of the exceptional level of Wang and Qu, but deep in runners capable of putting up some top times (and then never really being heard from much again, as is usually the case). (2) I think these WR times were, and are, possible, even for non-Africans. In other words, on this second point, I think women can run 3:50, 8:06, 14:28 (oops, they've already far surpassed this!), and 29:31.

So, let's look at the meets:

In the national meet in Beijing in 1993, we have:

10,000 (final, 8 September 1993):
1. Junxia Wang 29:31.78
2. Huandi Zhong 30:13.37
3. Lirong Zhang 31:09.25
4. Liyan Ma 31:10.46
My analysis: Wang is one of the great female distance runners, and in this national meet, of utmost importance – in some ways beyond the WC, she was determined to show it. Zhong, one of the other top, sort of benefitted by chasing her, running a top, but not shocking time. The others, were where I would expect. Without Wang, Zhong runs maybe 30-mid or 30-high for the win. Not shocking.

1500m (final, 11 Sept. 1993):
1. Yunxia Qu 3:50.46
2. Junxia Wang 3:51.92
3. Linli Zhang 3:57.46
4. Renmei Wang 3:58.64
5. Li Liu 3:59.34
6. Lirong Zhang 3:59.70
7. Yuan Wang 3:59.81
8. Yi Lu 4:00.05
My analysis: Two great athletes bashing each other to the limit to win a race that was of great, great importance in Chinese women's athletics, and to these two competitors, each of whom wanted to be considered the greatest Chinese women's distance runner. That's an accolade that probably doesn't mean crap to us, but our "greatest sprinter" debates don't mean much over there. After the two greats, a deep, but not outrageously deep, race. Some of the followers' times were the result of a version of what I call the "El G-Ngeny effect." A bunch of highly fit and talented followers, getting their fastest times ever in this one great race. Without Qu and Wang, this race would have been won perhaps in 3:58-3:59, or 4-low.

3000m heats (12 Sept. 1993)
Heat 1:
1. Wang 8:12.19
2. Qu 8:12.27
3. Liyan Ma 8:19.78

Heat 2:
1. Linli Zhang 8:22.06
2. Lirong Zhang 8:22.44
My analysis: Well, they put the two greats in the same heat, and the first one. Ma benefited from chasing. The other heat – fast, but not beyond what others have done. And, it needed to be fast to make the final. Not surprising there.

3000m final (13 Sept. 1993):
1. Wang 8:06.11
2. Qu 8:12.18
3. Yinli Zhang 8:16.50
4. Liyan Ma 8:21.26
My analysis: More Wang and Qu, and a couple of athletes who benefited from chasing their great battle.

Shanghai 1997

1500m heats (17 October)
Heat 1
Summary: Won in 3:57.15, with one other in 3:57, two in 3:58, and one in 3:59.
Heat 2
Summary: Won in 3:55.01, with 3 others in 3:55, and one each in 3:56, 3:57, 3:58.
(I believe that's 12 under 4:00.)

1500m final (18 October)
1. Jiang Bo 3:50.98
2. Yinglai Lang 3:51.34
Others: 2 in 3:53, one each in 3:54, 3:55, two in 3:57, one in 3:58.
My analysis: While I could try to wedge these times into the overall cultural argument I'm making, these are too many, and too exceptional, by too many athletes, all at once, and never or hardly ever again. I do think something's wrong with the timing, with the placement of the start line, or something. I'm not surprised in the heats that Heat 2 went faster than Heat 1, but beyond that, these results are problematic. I do bracket these in my own all-time lists, in the same way that I assume 10.49 from Indy in 1988 is bracketed by some or many on here.

It's worth noting in the Chinese all-time women's 1500m list, if we set aside Shanghai 1997, we have the following: Wang and Qu from Bejing 1993, and then Qu (3:57.08 Barcelona 1992) and Wang (3:58.00 Jinan 1993) as the next times on the list. I realize that some will note the gap between these two times and the two fastest they ran against each other, but I note that these are the two greats. In that one race they had their ideal 1500m moment, against each other. And beyond that, they are the top two on China's a-t list, Shanghai 1997 aside. (I realize that Qu was in the 1997 meet.)

Other distance results from Shanghai 1997 are not exceptional. For instance, the 10,000 was won in 30:38.09, with several other times in 30-high or 31-low. Deep and fast, but perhaps not disturbing.

The 5,000 was as follows:
1. Bo Jiang 14:28.09
2. Yanmei Dong 14:29.82
Others: two in high-14:30s, two in high 14:40s.
My analysis: Of course, at the time, this was WR stuff, but we seem to have calmed down about these times, since the east Africans have bested them, by a lot. Perhaps Bo Jiang was one of potential Chinese greats, but I don't know – she ran two fantastic times in that meet, and never again. Her 5,000 time is great, but no longer disturbing. Her 1500m time is among those that I bracket.

All of these times (1997 1500m aside) are as I would have expected, and as I would expect if the Kenyan or Ethiopian national meets were at sea level and were of the highest prestige. That is to say, fast, deep, as expected.

Some other thoughts, more general, but of no less importance:

In the 1980s and into the early-mid 90s, as China was developing rapidly on all fronts, the pursuit of athletics prestige was one outlet for Chinese women who found their way into the athletics system, which was also an educational and career path advancement system. The entire country was coming out of a time of great hardship, and in some ways it was both a "3rd world" and "developed" country (and still is).

I don't know the social background of every Chinese women who appears on these all-time lists, but I am fairly certain about the generalized description: Rural, working class, "peasants" so to speak. Let me generalize a bit further: Incredibly tough, strong, disciplined, capable of enduring almost anything if it has a chance of benefiting family or community. Not nearly enough opportunities for their talents. Want to stay on the farm? Work in a factory? How about getting into Ma's distance running program? They weren't just pushed to their limits – they pushed themselves to their limits. We often look at the Kenyans and Ethiopians and valorize them for their simple and rigorous lifeways, fearlessness of hard work, and their hunger for success – and the very concrete family/community benefits it brings. Same for these Chinese women. (And there are a hell of a lot more of them.)

Many of them broke, burned out, quit, or just moved on to other phases of life, especially as they realized they had very few outlets for their talents and as many realized they weren't getting rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments. In that respect, the system used them, and used up many of them to find a small handful of greats. As the nation has developed, athletes expectations have changed, and such women have more options for their talents, in a very general cultural sense.

The program of the early-mid 90s has "matured" in some ways. It now identifies fewer "greats" who have longer careers. Sun Yingjie and Zhou Chunxiu are two great examples. And, they have settled in to where I would expect their distance running culture to be – a much larger but analogous and parallel track to Japan – great marathoners and 10,000m runners. They may yet produce some greats at 1500m-5000m, but I doubt it (but more possible in China than in Japan – sheer numbers).

For those women in the 1990s, we in the West didn't grasp or believe them when there was some journalistic contact -- mostly we ridiculed them or assumed they were liars. They said they drank soup made with turtle's blood, and ate rare mushrooms, that helped endurance and strength. The journalism I saw on this mocked the Chinese, and assumed they were dissembling. I'm not making scientific claims about these foodstuffs (though I think there was a study a few years later on the mushrooms), but I can tell you that the belief that such foods do contribute to strength and endurance is widespread. That's exactly what I would have expected those women to say.

And when they reported running up to 150-200 miles a week (which I recall from some press reports), we also assumed they were lying, or trying to deceive in some way. I am confident they were being trained incredibly hard, and I know the slippage between Chinese and English on the terms for "mile." There are specific terms for "English mile" and "kilometer" and there is a general term for a unit of distance that usually is translated as "mile", but is shorter than either of the other two. I am sure that the women were reporting their mileage in their own vernacular terms.

And, I know we tend to look at their culture and see totalitarian, dominance of women, deferential to authority (especially among women, etc.) – and there are grains of truth in all that stereotyping, but one one point, I would be very surprised about these women in this period – that they would without question have submitted to injections, or pills, or however performance-enhancing substances are administered – more suspicion than you would expect about some of those "western" medicines, and I can assure you, great resistance if they saw physical changes that compromised their "femaleness" or their sense of themselves as "girls" (a term I see them use at later ages than we do in the West) or young women.

So, a giant athletics culture developing over the past ~25 years, with great national(istic) organization in some ways, and no qualms about running people into the ground, produced, in my view, two of the great female distance runners of recent decades, and an additional group who have found their way onto annual and all-time lists, or medal stands, or top 10 finishes. And, in the process, produced one very, very weird 1500m series in 1997. Other athletics cultures have produced their own short list of greats in the past few decades (and that 10.49 was produced in a national championship meet). Greatness happens, and crap happens, and history has produced new sources of female athletic talent in cultures where it wasn't being produced a generation ago. Why so hard to believe? One of the problems is that this analysis isn't simple – it doesn't write off a whole culture of athletics that we would prefer to suspect, but at the same time, it doesn't apologize for, or defend an athletics culture (that burned out many runners, and screwed up the all-time lists in the 1500m).

I realize that I can't prove any of this, and I don't expect it to persuade anyone, as minds have been made up for a long time on these issues. And, to anyone who actually read this entire post, thank you. Send me a personal message, and I'll send you payment for your time. :)
Master Po
 
Posts: 2630
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: north coast USA

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Pego » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:22 pm

I read it in its entirety and came out convinced that you are one exceptionally intelligent person, an erudite writer as well as somebody I would be proud to call friend. The message I'll have to think about 8-) .
Pego
 
Posts: 10196
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: beyond help

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby TN1965 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:14 pm

This is very interesting.

It is possible that most distance runners never reach their full potential as far as the time is concerned. They try to peak for the major championships (OG or WC), but in those races, the record is not their primary concern. I remember reading that Bekele was in a "world record shape" in Beijing. But we will never know what time he was capable of running, because he was not running for the record. And when he was chasing a WR, maybe he wasn't in as good a shape. And so many little things (temparature, humidity, wind, etc.) could go wrong to slow down the race.

But imagine top runners in in their best shape, running a race under "ideal" conditions, and trying to run as fast as they could (instead of engaging in a tactical race). It is quite possible that they produce times they cannot come close to before or after.
TN1965
 
Posts: 1182
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:38 pm

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:32 pm

That is quite simply one of the best posts I've ever read on this or any other forum.

It has actually made me reconsider the beliefs that I have held for nearly 20 years and whilst I doubt we'll ever know the truth this comes the closest making sense of any explanation I've heard.
Flumpy
 
Posts: 3899
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:37 pm

Master Po wrote:Chinese women began appearing in WC/OG competitons in the late 80s, with little notice, as they made not a great impact in medals or times. As we all know, 1993 in Stuttgart was their big moment, but other than the surprise it generated among "us," it wasn't that big a deal:

1500m 1. Dong Liu 4:00.50
3000m 1. Yunxia Qu 8:28.71; Linli Zhang 8:29.25; Lirong Zhang 8:31.95
10000m 1. Junxia Wang 30:49.30; Huandi Zhong 31:12.55

A great meet for them, but the times were/are not outrageous, not out of line with other WC/OG winning/medal times, and certainly not of the order of "those people must be cheating."


Surely the troubling thing about the races wasn't that they won, but the manner in which they did it. If I'm not mistaken the negative splits were ridonculous and you knew whilst watching that they could have run much faster but were simply doing enough (And following the instructions) to win.
Flumpy
 
Posts: 3899
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby Flumpy » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:52 pm

TN1965 wrote:But imagine top runners in in their best shape, running a race under "ideal" conditions, and trying to run as fast as they could (instead of engaging in a tactical race). It is quite possible that they produce times they cannot come close to before or after.


This is a very good point. I remember in the late 90's early 00's when anyone of the likes of the likes of Gaby/Sonia/Gete/Berhane/Paula etc could have lowered the 5,000, record considerably but insisted on titting about and worrying that they would lose the race rather than trying to lay down a great time.

Babyface and Meseret have done the same.
Flumpy
 
Posts: 3899
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby bman » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:14 pm

Look I'm not saying I'm an expert on this (before my time), but why is it hard to believe they were on EPO (or whatever the drug)? Seems clear to me, but like I said I wasn't around at the time. I do second many of the other factors people have mentioned, in summation saying Ma Junren was an extraordinary coach with extraordinary means, both cultural and institutional.
bman
 
Posts: 776
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:27 pm
Location: Columbus

Re: Chinese female world records

Postby kuha » Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:08 pm

Master Po wrote:In the national meet in Beijing in 1993, we have:

10,000 (final, 8 September 1993):
1. Junxia Wang 29:31.78
2. Huandi Zhong 30:13.37
3. Lirong Zhang 31:09.25
4. Liyan Ma 31:10.46
My analysis: Wang is one of the great female distance runners, and in this national meet, of utmost importance – in some ways beyond the WC, she was determined to show it. Zhong, one of the other top, sort of benefitted by chasing her, running a top, but not shocking time. The others, were where I would expect. Without Wang, Zhong runs maybe 30-mid or 30-high for the win. Not shocking.

1500m (final, 11 Sept. 1993):
1. Yunxia Qu 3:50.46
2. Junxia Wang 3:51.92
3. Linli Zhang 3:57.46
4. Renmei Wang 3:58.64
5. Li Liu 3:59.34
6. Lirong Zhang 3:59.70
7. Yuan Wang 3:59.81
8. Yi Lu 4:00.05
My analysis: Two great athletes bashing each other to the limit to win a race that was of great, great importance in Chinese women's athletics, and to these two competitors, each of whom wanted to be considered the greatest Chinese women's distance runner. That's an accolade that probably doesn't mean crap to us, but our "greatest sprinter" debates don't mean much over there. After the two greats, a deep, but not outrageously deep, race. Some of the followers' times were the result of a version of what I call the "El G-Ngeny effect." A bunch of highly fit and talented followers, getting their fastest times ever in this one great race. Without Qu and Wang, this race would have been won perhaps in 3:58-3:59, or 4-low.

3000m heats (12 Sept. 1993)
Heat 1:
1. Wang 8:12.19
2. Qu 8:12.27
3. Liyan Ma 8:19.78

Heat 2:
1. Linli Zhang 8:22.06
2. Lirong Zhang 8:22.44
My analysis: Well, they put the two greats in the same heat, and the first one. Ma benefited from chasing. The other heat – fast, but not beyond what others have done. And, it needed to be fast to make the final. Not surprising there.

3000m final (13 Sept. 1993):
1. Wang 8:06.11
2. Qu 8:12.18
3. Yinli Zhang 8:16.50
4. Liyan Ma 8:21.26
My analysis: More Wang and Qu, and a couple of athletes who benefited from chasing their great battle.


Master Po: Many thanks for this. I truly admire your clarity, logic, and care. This is a compelling argument that deserves to be taken very seriously.

I do think, however, that you've underplayed the anomalous nature of this whole week, as well as the WAY in which some of these performances were achieved. In shorthand:

-it wasn't simply the 29:31 time that was amazing, but the fact that the last half was 14:26, and the last 3000 in 8:17--both way under the then-current WRs. By this measure, the 29:31 was probably easily "worth" 29:15, no? And for the race as a whole, best ever marks for place: 1-13.

-2 days later, 10 Sept. saw the 1500 heats, in which Qu ran 3:59.38; Wang ran 4:01.55; and the slowest qualifier, in 12th, was 4:02.44 (!).

-the next day, 11 Sept, saw the 3:50.46 WR, with Wang also under the old record; best ever marks for place: 1-2, 7-9

-the next day, 12 Sept, saw the 3000 heats; in the first the top two broke the standing WR (8:22.06, 8:22.44); in the second, Wang ran 8:12, followed by two more under 8:20 (best ever marks for place: 1-3).

-the next day, 13 Sept, saw the 3000 final, with an 8:06 winning time, Qu at 8:12, and 3 more under the original WR (best ever marks for place: 1-5).

How many "the next day"s can we really stomach here? Why the absurdly fast heats? (Not all were needed for actual advancement to the final.) Why the mass of no-name athletes destroying the previous WRs? (But I fully agree that Wang and Qu were extremely talented.)

There were a total of 14 performances under the previous WRs. There were a total of 8 under 1:59 in the 800 (which I haven't even bothered to insert in the chronology above); 7 under 4:00 in the 1500; 5 under 8:22 at 3000; and 11 under 31:33 in the 10,000.

Nothing in previous history comes remotely close to this deep, sustained, and wholesale slaughter of the record books. And absolutely nothing since has come anywhere close to duplicating it. Nothing comes close in terms of day-after-day astonishing performances from several of these athletes. That week stands, conspicuously, as a historical case study of one, and only one. And as an historian, that makes me very nervous--and very doubtful.

A short track would explain this to me, whether or not it's really possible. Drugs? Perhaps, maybe even probably, but the rest of the world had them too... High testosterone levels? Castrated men? Admittedly, the theories go from plausible to not very...

So it remains a mystery to me. But after all these years, I still do not believe them. They still simply make no sense to me.

But I do appreciate your thoughtful argument....
kuha
 
Posts: 9015
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 4:32 am
Location: 3rd row, on the finish line

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest