In November 1981, a Swedish powerlifter claimed that there had been a flood of drugs at the World Championship in powerlifting in Calcutta. Iceland had two representatives at the tournament: Skúli Óskarsson and Jón Páll Sigmarsson. The Swedish competitor was arrested upon arrival at the Arlanda airport in Stockholm, after having been stopped in customs, where over one thousand „anabole-steroider“-pills had been discovered in his luggage.
Travelled with jellied sheep’s head and fish jerky
The World Championship in powerlifting was held in Calcutta, India, from November 4th through November 8th, 1981. It drew some attention that the two Icelandic powerlifters, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Skúli Óskarsson, took all food they were planning to eat during the tournament with them from Iceland. In Morgunblaðið, it was reported that the stewardesses in the plane on route from Bombay to Calcutta, had been quite astounded to see Sigmarsson and Óskarsson eating jellied sheep’s head and fish jerky on the plane, instead of the Indian delicacies served during the flight.
The two Icelanders did very well at the tournament, each one earning a medal; Óskarsson the bronze in his category and Sigmarsson silver in his own.
Claimed that the pills had been flowing all over
The Swedish powerlifter Ray Yvander had competed a few years earlier in the Nordic Championships, which were held in Iceland. He immediately confessed to the drugs belonging to him when they were discovered in his luggage at the airport. The drugs in question were not only banned in customs, but also by the international sports movement. Yvander therefore received a heavy fine and was to be banned from participating in any sports tournaments for two years.
Shortly thereafter, Yvander said in an interview with Swedish journalists that drugs had positively been flowing, at the World Championship in Calcutta. He claimed there to have been both usage of hormonal drugs and stimulants, which he claimed to have been very easy to acquire for anyone who wanted to do so; „[…] easy to acquire for those who wanted them.“
Denied any flood of pills
When Yvanders claims were published, Icelandic journalists obviously wanted to know whether they rang true for Óskarsson and Sigmarsson. „We were never offered a single pill out there so I have no idea what the Swede is getting at,“ Óskarsson answered. He also stated that he had not witnessed any „pill-eating“ or drugs being sold during the tournament.
In an article by Dagblaðið&Vísir, it is stated that both Óskarsson and Sigmarsson had actually been tested for drugs after having completed the tournament. They had both come out „completely clean“. The same could not be said for everyone else. Two men, one Japanese and the other American, had been disqualified due to drug use and stripped of their prizes. Both these contestants were said to have used hormonal drugs. This was discovered when the top five of each category were tested for drugs.
This article was originally published in Icelandic.