Legendary Canadian shot putter Bishop Dolegiewicz passed on to his eternal award last week. The large shot putter admitted to the infamous Canadian Dubin Commission that he utilized steroids when competing. (New York Times from 1989). Bish was a frequent Olympian, who's records were wiped out when his drug use was exposed. By all accounts he was a good guy.
''At the higher levels of competition,'' he said of the throwing events of track and field, ''I would be hard-pressed to find the name of an individual who hasn't used steroids.''
Although the athlete himself, his friends, and reasonable medical opinion strongly speculate that the drugs cut his life short, denial continues to reign at this level. (to The Star)
Dolegiewicz, a Toronto native who starred at Parkdale Collegiate, won two gold medals at the Pan Am Games, two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games and 13 medals at Canadian championships. He was 11th at the 1984 L.A. Olympics and fourth in 1980 in a world's strongest man contest.
He was later stripped of his Canadian shot put record after admitting during the Dubin Inquiry to using steroids for more than a decade.
Bis not only lost his medals, he lost his life early, leaving a 30 year-old widow.
Dolegiewicz, who had success as a coach at Southern Utah University, was suffering from cardio and circulation problems. He died in Lehi, Utah, leaving behind his wife Anna, 30, a thrower he coached.
Former teammate Bruce Pirnie said Dolegiewicz's testimony at the Dubin Inquiry, where he also admitted to supplying steroids to athletes, cost him his coaching job at the University of Saskatchewan and took a toll on his health. Justice Charles Dubin also died this week.
"It's definitely (a coincidence) that Bish and Justice Dubin should pass away at the same time," said Pirnie, adding that Dolegiewicz had a positive coaching legacy in Canada. "Saskatchewan still sees the benefit of Bish's imprint. They turn out more throwers than anyone in the country."
Former Canadian discus champ Rob Gray was saddened by the news. "Whatever you say about the guy, he was a great competitor, a mountain of a man and a great athlete," said Gray, who also admitted to steroid use. "He was a big, strong guy because he worked his butt off and showed us how hard you had to work to get to the next level. It's hard to call him a role model, but he was in some ways."
Dolegiewicz told the inquiry he regretted using steroids because of the toll it had on his mind and body and that as a coach he strongly warned athletes against them.
"I give people the examples of individuals that I have known that have gotten sick from the use of steroids and I try to come across and give the kids the message, `Look, you're going to pay the price at some point in time,'" Dolegiewicz said during his testimony.
Interesting that Bish's fellow athletes don't make a connection between 'roids, weight, cholesterol, high blood pressure, lowered HDLs and increased LDLs, all medical measures that bode harm in a big guy.
Pirnie said he had been pondering whether steroids had a role in Dolegiewicz's health issues. "I would be very surprised if there wasn't a connection," he said.
Gray said, "I suspect it has got a lot more to do with that he was a 6-foot-6, 330-pound man who was probably overweight."
Not to moralize too much on the high horse, however those athletes should consider reality when juicing. Nothing comes free; that's not a moral lecture but a practical point. A young athlete may feel life is forever, or that he will do anything to win even if it shortens life; however that is simply denial. Dying (relatively) young is not a winner.