Micheal W. Overdeer
DRUG FREE ROOTS AND THE PURSUIT OF STRENGTH
Hearken back with me, if you will, to a time when American culture needed a correction, and re-discover the brave individuals who took it upon themselves to stand up for accountability.
The 1960's in America are often associated with the burgeoning use of recreational drugs. The media plays images of beatniks and hippies smoking weed, dropping acid, going to outdoor rock concerts and zoning out. We're led to believe that a youthful generation had gone astray, rebelling against the conformity of prior generations. The truth is that while these things did happen, it was on a far smaller scale than is represented. We were experiencing the symptoms of a society gathering stress, and experiencing disillusionment. The Vietnam War, the Space Race, The Cold War, Fallen Leaders - all contributed to a society starting to show symptoms of stress. A segment of that society began to "act out", and flirted with drugs and "alternative" lifestyles.
The 1970's were a different story altogether. America went from "acting out" on its stresses, and flirting with drug use - to full scale abuse - embracing drug use as a "path to enlightenment". Escaping from reality became perhaps even a desirable pursuit, and street drugs came to be seen as "tools" for use in daily life. You could hardly walk by a high school restroom anywhere, without smelling the odor of burning marijuana, and the U.S. President was even talking about legalizing it's use. At the same time, American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War needed new therapies for the effects of injuries suffered from land mines. Anabolic Steriods soon found their way out of the doctor's offices, and into the hands of strength athletes. Like other drugs of the period, users exploited their use to the fullest, producing unbelievable, and incredibly dangerous results. The sport of Powerlifting became thoroughly infected.
By 1980, Powerlifting, along with its baggage of drug users, had grown to exponential levels. The Amateur Athletic Union, which organized and sanctioned P/L competitions up to that time began to consider cutting the sport loose. In 1981 they did exactly this, and two organizations, almost simultaneously, sprang forth and began to independently administrate the sport of powerlifting.
One of the two, became incorporated in the state of Alabama in November 1981, as The American Drug Free Powerlifting Association. Largely the vision and brainchild of Brother Bennet Bishop, The A.D.F.P.A. would come to represent accountability in strength sports. Every competition across the country would have mandatory drug testing, and users who were caught in the process would suffer severe penalties, in the form of long-term suspensions. Competitions without drug-testing were simply not allowed, a fact which holds true to this day. A Priest, Brother Bennet knew the value of ethics in society. He also knew, and rightfully believed, that to change the world, one had to live, and lead, by example. His mentoring work with young boys struggling to grow up straight and true in the economically depressed South, gave him great ability to nurture a fledgling organization, which would stand for principle and a mission - to promote drug-free powerlifting across the world. His vision was accurate, and amazingly on-target. A singular movement which would change, and lead, the powerlifting world had begun.
Brother Bennet Bishop was taken from us in 1995, but his vision, and the organization that he started continues to thrive. In 1997, The American Drug Free Powerlifting Association decided to adopt the name "USA Powerlifting", because we dared to dream that we will someday become an Olympic sport. Later that same year, we became the USA affiliate to the International Powerlifting Federation - another incredible part of the realization of Brother Bennet's vision. Since that time, the USA has not only presented it's best-ever teams to the world across the board, we have dramatically presented the mission and ethics we stand for - overpowering the sketchy history of past drug failures from the USA. Thus far, not a single failure from our teams in International competition.
Make no mistake about it - we do business under the name USA Powerlifting, but every document, every piece of history, every rule, policy, regulation and expectation still reflects the proud tradition of who we really are - The American Drug Free Powerlifting Association.
A few thoughts on our mission and the pursuit of strength -
It's true what your parents said - it's not OK for you to cheat to win. Taking drugs to get stronger will damage your body and shorten your life. The things worth having in life really do take time, patience and effort to acquire. Pursue Strength with honor and discipline.
Always remember that Strength is a Virtue. In a time when few seem to embrace the most intrinsic qualities of life, know that the pursuit of strength is an honorable, if not essential mission.
All good things are qualified by virtues. Strength, Honor, Truth, Justice; - Faith, Hope and Love are virtues not only reinforced by the systems of law that mankind lives under, but are the foundations of our relationship with God. These are incredible gifts, divine principles.
Know that strength is an invaluable tool. Like a sharp knife, it can be used for either Good or Evil. For Good to prevail, however, it must be stronger than the Evil that assails it - thus reinforcing the essential pursuit of Strength as a Virtue.
Know that Strength is also an adjective to life. Whether described by an artist, historian, physician or teacher; Strength is found to be a component of all that is worthy to be remembered.
Strength of Conviction upholds Truth, Strength of Character upholds Leadership and Mentoring, Strength of Spirit upholds Motivation and Enlightenment. Strength of Body upholds Physical and Mental Wellness, enabling us to achieve higher goals.
The pursuit of Strength is a practice and a discipline that qualifies all other areas of life. It's benefits spill over to enhance the potency of every other good and precious thing.
Courage needs strength to enable action. Bravery needs strength to overcome adversity. Healing needs strength to mend what has broken. New life needs strength to burst forth into the World. Love needs strength to deepen, grow and mature.
Grow this virtue, and do so honorably. Respect it. Discipline it. Enjoy it. Nurture it. Pursue it with passion! New Strength exudes it's rewards at every level, enriching and empowering quality of life.
Most importantly, use the strength you have earned to positively impact our world, making it a better place than we found it.
There are few more noble pursuits.
Michael W. Overdeer
President, USA Powerlifting
USAPL Vice President
Vice President's Message
February 18, 2002
This is our first issue of 2002. It promises to be a great issue and a great year. This issue continues some of our recent series, including Dr. Mike Hartle's articles on Sports' Medicine, and Robert Wagners's articles on coaching. In addition, this issue, we will cover our recent Women's Nationals, held the 9th and 10th of February in Chicago. 123 women participated; our largest women's competition ever. The competition was organized masterfully by Dennis and Sandy Brady, with the assistance of their very capable support staff. Dennis and Sandy have been promoting meets since the early 80's, and continue to refine their systems so that each one is run more smoothly than the last. Dennis and Sandy have the Men's Nationals in July, and the Women's World Championships in May of 2003. If you want to see a show, come to Chicago!
In 2001, USAPL completed 707 drug tests. Each of the returning Open Division Champions was tested out of competition, as well as some others who set records, placed internationally in their respective divisions, or who made significant improvements over the past year. With partial results in, this appears to be more than any other IPF affiliate nation, although I would state emphatically that several nationals exceed us in numbers of tests per lifter, and in Out of Competition testing. Many nations demonstrate a strong commitment to doping control, with constant improvement internationally.
Our membership numbers for 2001 were slightly down when compared to 2000. Members of our National Governing Body suggested a number of improvements in our systems to regain members lost, especially High School lifters. With sanctioned High School State Championships scheduled in two states that held unsanctioned competitions in 2001, we expect to increase membership to at least 2000 numbers.
This year marks the return of IPF World Championships to the United States, for the first time in nearly 20 years. In 2002, the 2nd Master World Bench Press Championships will be held in Killeen, Texas. The 2003 Women's World Championships will be held, as stated above, in Chicago in May, and in 2004 we have secured bids for the Open Bench Press and Jr. Championships, in Cleveland and Ft. Wayne, Indiana, respectively. We will continue to enter bids for World Championship competitions, and continue to invite guest lifters to our meets.
At our recently held Women's National Championships, 5 members of the British Women's National Team attended, and very much enjoyed their lifting experience, and warm welcome they received from the spectators and the other lifters. They plan to return at their first opportunity, and no doubt will spread the word that America is a great place to visit and compete.
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