Athletes Abstain from Sex in Quest for Gold

Feb. 19, 2006 — -- The ancient Greek tradition might be tough for some athletes to follow -- but others, including the Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers, swear by thousands of years of tradition that dictates abstaining from sex before the big competition.

The Steelers were separated from their wives before the Super Bowl -- because legend has it that abstinence saves the legs, or that sexual frustration leads to extra aggression.

"I think it really helps to stay away from that and really focus on what you are here for," said Chad Hedrick, the gold medal speed skater who abstains from sex in the weeks before competition.

Team USA doctors say that there is no proof that abstaining from sex helps athletes gain an edge.

"Absolutely no physiological benefit whatsoever," said Dr. Gunnar Brolinson, the U.S. freestyle ski doctor. "You can't say that somebody that abstains from sex is going to run faster, jump higher, ski better, anything like that."

... Or Maybe Not

That is good news for silver medal snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and her boyfriend.

"You can do whatever you want," she said. "I'm not a very superstitious person. I don't set rules for myself."

Neither does American freestyle skier Joe Pack.

"I don't know who you're talking to," he said. "That's pretty far out of my game plan. Think that stuff kind of goes hand in hand with being a professional athlete."

Hedrick, however, will continue with his routine.

"I tried, and it is working so far," he said. "And I am going to continue doing it until I accomplish all my goals."

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