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Newspaper Reports Steroid Use, Warns of Health Consequences

November 26, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ A national newspaper has acknowledged that some top Soviet athletes have used anabolic steroids and warned of dire health consequences from doping.

The article in a recent issue of Sovietsky Sport focused on drug problems among athletes in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. Although it gave little indication of how widespread the problem is, the article was a rare disclosure of drug violations by sportsmen.

The newspaper named two swimmers who admitted using steroids and cited the cases of other, unidentified athletes whose health was damaged by routine injections of muscle-building drugs.

Soviet sports regulations prohibit the use of steroids and other drugs, and officials have characterized doping as a problem among Western athletes.

The newspaper account cited the case of Igor Papshev, a two-time national swimming champion. Papshev admitted using steroids for three years, beginning at age 19, at the encouragement of his coach, Oleg V. Soloviev.

Papshev told officials that Soloviev invited him to his country house and offered the steroids as an impetus to help him set a record. The article said he took regular injections, administered by the sports center’s medical staff. Papshev said he was sometimes injected by the coach on Sundays when the medicine cabinet was locked, the article said.

The newspaper said Papshev’s public admission of drug use drew criticism from his colleagues.

″He was forsaken by his friends on the team. The leading officials of the sport club skeptically grinned and suggested to Igor that he take back his words because they were unfounded and defamed the coach,″ the newspaper said.

Papshev quit the team and trains independently, the article said. Soloviev was reprimanded and stripped of his title.

Sovietsky Sport said the Papshev incident was hushed up until a second scandal emerged involving another pupil of Soloviev’s.

Olga Travnikova was in Moscow on her way to compete in a championship in West Germany when a medical test revealed the presence of steroids, the newspaper said. Her trip was canceled and she was kicked off the team. Ms. Travnikova now works as a cleaning woman at the club’s swimming pool and trains on her own, Sovietsky Sport said.

Soviet sports officials its athletes to be amateurs, but many of the top competitors are assigned jobs within their clubs so they can devote themselves to full-time training.

Valentina V. Kuzmenko, a senior doctor at the Novosibirsk Sports Medicine Center, told the newspaper of several cases in which prominent athletes have suffered from sterility or impotence because of drugs designed to enhance their sports performance.

She said one former track star, who she did not identify, was recuperating at the medical center and had gained so much weight from steroids that she had to enter doors sideways.

The newspaper expressed support for the doctor’s suggestion that all athletes be required to sign statements declaring that they will not use drugs to improve their performance.

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