Special Olympics Investigated For Use Of Performance-Enhancing Hugs

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Vol 41 Issue 23

NBA Playoffs Interrupted By NBA Preseason

DETROIT—Game Six of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons was postponed Saturday so that the Heat could play their first preseason game against the Seattle Supersonics. "It would've been great to have determined who would've been in the finals, but this exhibition game was already on the schedule," said Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. "Sonics fans have been looking forward to this game all off-season." Representatives for both teams expressed hopes that the 2005 NBA Finals would be over by the start of the 2006 All-Star Game.

Eighth-Grader Hasn't Missed A '69' Joke Opportunity All Year

LEBANON, PA—According to Lebanon Central Middle School staff, Mike Eichstadt, 14, leapt on every possible occasion to make a "69" joke during the entirety of his eighth-grade year. "If a teacher said 'Turn to page 69' or a classmate got a 69 on a quiz, Mike Eichstadt was there with a smirk and a quip," principal Melanie Reinke said. "Sometimes, Mike only needed to be asked a question involving a number—such as 'How many years did Ford serve as president?'—to make a '69' joke." Despite his aptitude for "69" jokes, Eichstadt received a D in math.

Congress Relieved To Admit It's Not Going To Accomplish Anything This Year

WASHINGTON, DC—Members of Congress breathed a collective sigh of relief Tuesday when Speaker Dennis Hastert successfully introduced a resolution averring that the legislative body was "probably not going to get much done in 2005." "Whereas, we have been debating the same bills for months," the resolution read in part. "Whereas, we have been getting nowhere; Resolved, let's not force it."When asked what they would do for the rest of 2005, given the passing of the resolution, many said they might go see some movies or visit constituents.

Garden Too Much For Grandma This Summer

TULSA, OK—Though she has tended the same 10' x 25' backyard vegetable plot for more than three decades, local grandmother Helen Fischer, 74, said Monday that the task would be too much for her this year. "My knee hasn't been the same since I hurt it weeding the kohlrabi last summer," said Fischer, slowly lifting a bag of seeds to the mouth of a hanging bird feeder. "I might plant some marigolds in the window box, though, if Kerry's Greenhouse has any nice ones." In a related story, Fischer's husband Ralph said that, while he doesn't believe he'll be stringing the front-yard trees with holiday lights this year, he will still put out the wreaths.

Kuwait Starting To Notice Girls

KUWAIT CITY—In light of the country's recent decision to allow women to vote and hold public office, observers around the world have noted that Kuwait appears to have discovered the fairer sex. "The boys in Kuwait are really taking notice of how much the girls have changed over the country's long political winter," said Fouad Ajami, an expert in Arab affairs. "They're no longer shyly avoiding women they're not related to or clumsily shooting them for not wearing veils in public." Ajami added that he was not entirely surprised by Kuwait's discovery, given its long history of teasing women, calling them names, and stoning them to death for being unclean.

Repressed-Memory Therapist Recovers Rockford Files Episode

OTTUMWA, IA—After months of hypnotherapy, local repressed-memory therapist Brian Marnard has helped Joan Spees, a 37-year-old farm-equipment sales consultant, recover an entire Rockford Files episode from the darkest reaches of her subconscious mind.

I'm Sick Of These Money Problems

Hola, amigos. What's goin' on? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but it's like life keeps raining shit down on me and I don't have a shit shovel big enough to clear it all away. My ride is giving me grief. The muffler is coming loose, so it's making a lot of noise. The car might sound badass if it were, like, a Thunderbird or something. But it's a Festiva, so it sounds like a souped-up lawn mower. I took a tin can and some muffler tape and patched the pipe up, but my repair job isn't going to last for long.

Deep Throat Revealed

Last week, former FBI agent Mark Felt revealed that he was Deep Throat, the anonymous source that helped break the Watergate scandal. What do you think?

Well, I Guess That Genocide In Sudan Must've Worked Itself Out On Its Own

I was pretty worried a year or so ago when the news came out that thousands of people had been indiscriminately slaughtered in Darfur. It was unsettling to hear that citizens of one ethnicity (Arab, maybe?) were systematically mass-murdering the population of some other ethnicity (Was it the Ganjaweeds? It's been so long since I've read their names!) But lately, the main stories in the news seem to be about Deep Throat, the new summer blockbusters, and something about stem cells. Since I'm sure I would have remembered if the U.S. had intervened in some way to stop it, I can only assume that the whole genocide-in-Darfur thing has somehow worked itself out.
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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."

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