Special Olympics Investigated For Use Of Performance-Enhancing Hugs

Top Headlines


Jumbotron Really Trying To Push New Third-Down Cheer On Fans

SAN DIEGO—Noting that the phrase had appeared in large blue letters during each of the team’s offensive drives, sources at Qualcomm Stadium confirmed Friday that the Jumbotron was trying really hard to push a new third-down cheer on San Diego Chargers fans.

Strongside/Weakside: Kris Bryant

By leading the Chicago Cubs in hits and home runs en route to their second straight playoff appearance, Kris Bryant has placed himself in the running for the National League MVP. Is he any good?

Rest Of Nation To Penn State: ‘Something Is Very Wrong With All Of You’

WASHINGTON—Stating they felt deeply unnerved by the community’s unwavering and impassioned defense of a football program and administration that enabled child sexual abuse over the course of several decades, the rest of the country informed Penn State University Friday that there is clearly something very wrong with all of them.

Strongside/Weakside: Lamar Jackson

After passing for eight touchdowns and rushing for another 10 in just the first three weeks of the season, Louisville Cardinals sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson has quickly become the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy. Is he any good?

Strongside/Weakside: Carson Wentz

After being selected second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz opened the season with a nearly flawless performance in a victory over the Cleveland Browns. Is he any good?

Former WWE Wrestler Found Alive At 44

PHOENIX—In a revelation that has sent shockwaves through the wrestling world, sources confirmed that former WWE wrestler Freddy Hendricks, better known as his in-ring persona “Time Bomb,” was discovered alive Friday at the age of 44.

Strongside/Weakside: Dak Prescott

Having assumed the role after Tony Romo’s injury during the preseason, Dak Prescott is expected to open the NFL regular season as the first rookie quarterback to start for the Dallas Cowboys since 2004. Is he any good?

Study: 96% Of Pickup Games Decided By Next Score

PRINCETON, NJ—Noting that none of the game’s earlier events factored into the final outcome in any way whatsoever, a study released Wednesday by researchers at Princeton University revealed that 96 percent of all pickup games are decided by the next score.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next

Special Olympics Investigated For Use Of Performance-Enhancing Hugs

WASHINGTON, DC—Three months after the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, the International Special Olympics Committee has begun to investigate charges that athletes used performance-enhancing hugs in their training and directly before competing in key events.

Two tennis players accused of hug use.

"These people have no shame," ISOC chairman Bill Evans said Monday. "Right before a big game or race, many of them will take a dose of affection, sometimes from a coach, other times from a family member. Competing players have even been known to exchange hugs during the competition itself."

Although insiders have long attested to widespread hug use among special athletes, the full scope of the problem was not understood until November 2004, when Carnegie Mellon's medical school published a study on hug use in the Clinical Journal Of Sport Medicine. According to the study, researchers found double-digit spikes in self-valuation, warm fuzziness, and smiles following even a single hug.

Evans said he "took one look at the numbers" and agreed to an internal investigation and an across-the-board review of hug-use policies.

"Hug users have an unfair advantage over the hug-free, as they are pumped up with confidence," Evans said. "In competitions relying on endurance, hugs serve to artificially heighten an athlete's stamina. For example, hug users may be as much as 65 percent more likely to excel at no-contact floor hockey than those who say no to hugs. Put simply, it's unethical."

Alpine skiing bronze medalist Lee Young-Suk, who has Down syndrome, appeared on a special edition of ABC's Primetime Live Tuesday and admitted to frequent use of performance-enhancing hugs.

Four athletes who have had their medals seized by the ISOC.

"When my mommy [Jun Young-Suk] hugs me, it makes me feel like I'm the best and she loves me and I can win," Suk told Diane Sawyer. "I'm a winner!"

The emotions Suk described—euphoria, omnipotence, overall well-being—have been found to last for as little as five minutes or as long as several hours, depending upon the number and type of embraces administered.

Due to the short-burst effect of performance-enhancing hugs, testing for their presence is difficult.

"Currently, eyewitness sightings are the only reliable indicators of hug use," said ISOC regulator Peter Warner. "Unfortunately, hug use can occur anywhere—from the group home to the bleachers. We can't be in every team's van at all times."

In the search for hug abusers, regulators have screened hundreds of hours of Special Olympics videotape, hoping to catch huggers in the act. They are also relying on testimony from hug users such as Suk.

"Lee Young-Suk really stood his ground at first, saying he did not want to tattle on his friends," Warner said of the hug user. "We couldn't get him to give us any names until we promised him a trip to Dairy Queen."

Still, as Evans pointed out, hug use does not necessarily translate into better athletic performance. Over time, it may even serve as a hindrance.

"Ironically, many of the worst special athletes are the ones getting the most hugs," Evans said. "Once they get hooked, even if it isn't helping their game, these Olympians continue to crave the affection, accepting it as almost a consolation prize for their effort. Sometimes you see special athletes seeking hugs outside the realm of competition, just for the sake of hugging. This is where we get into really dangerous territory."


Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close