Why Australia Won So Many Medals In 2000
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Remember how Australia won a pot of medals at its Sydney Games in 2000? Remember how part-Aboriginal runner Cathy Freeman's 400 meter victory was the biggest deal in the history of the world for about a week in 2000?

So, how much did the Aussies want to win in 2000?

This much:

From the Associated Press 

7 October 1997 

East Germany's chief track and field coach during the era of government-sanctioned steroid abuse was named Australia's head coach today, a move that stunned a German investigator into sports doping. 

Dr. Werner Franke, the German Parliamentary investigator into East German secret police files detailing sports drug abuse, said Dr. Eckhard Arbeit was "a major person responsible for the use of anabolic steroids." 

Arbeit, 56, was head coach for throwing events of the East German track and field team from 1982-88 and chief coach in 1989-90. "At the time he was coach, there were plans of who should take how much drugs and how this should be co-ordinated. All that was his responsibility," Franke told The Associated Press on Wednesday by telephone from Germany.


After a few weeks of controversy, the Aussies fired Arbeit. But think of his hiring as a leading indicator of how much the Australian sports authorities wanted to win.

As far as I can tell, Arbeit has been employed since 2007 with the South African track team.

Now, Australia has been a sports-oriented country for a long time, although it didn't win a lot of Olympic medals until after WWII. Then it did well until 1976, when its number of gold medals dropped from 8 in 1972 to 0 in 1976, probably due in large part to the rise of the East German women, which was not looked upon favorably in Australia. So, the appointment of the former coach of the East German lady shotputters as head of the Australian track & field team was a sign of pretty serious intent to Do What It Takes.

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