Duck doping rampant at race
VAIL ” A doping scandal rocked the annual Vail Rubber Duck Race Sunday after several participants, including the winner, admitted their rubber duckies used performance-enhancing substances to win.
“What can I say?” winner Liz Stenzel said. “We were drinking, so (the duck) was probably doping. I say win how you have to ” win how you can.”
Stenzel and husband Bill’s steroid-ridden ducky dashed along the Gore Creek from Golden Peak to the finish line at International Bridge in Vail, winning a $5,000 trip for two to Maui, airfare, lodging and car included.
The two winners weren’t alone in the doping debauchery. Other duck sponsors filled their yellow rubber fowl with helium, nitrous oxide, vodka and other substances to best the crowd of nearly 14,000 ducks. Even kids broke the rules by grabbing ducks from the chilly Gore Creek and tossing them downstream.
“Our duck is riding high, I’ll tell you that,” Kevin Hart said, adding he didn’t know whether filling his duck with helium and nitrous oxide means disqualification.
“The jury is still out,” he said.
Still, some sponsors remain pure in the age of duck doping.
“They’ve been pumping up au naturel,” Stacy Reid said.
Others refused to disclose their duck-training methods.
“I can’t tell you ” it’s on the down low,” said Alicia Pribramsky. “I can’t discuss our pre-training strategy.”
On the banks, Eric Wuppermann cheered for his daughter’s duck, Mr. Fluffy. Wuppermann said doping, contrary to others’ allegations, isn’t a problem.
“Not yet,” Wuppermann said. “One of these days there’s going to be a smart duck.”
Wuppermann denied his duck used performance-enhancing substances. However, after additional prodding, Wuppermann revealed Mr. Fluffy’s seedy past.
“He used to sell drugs,” Wuppermann said, adding the ducks are “all full of quack.”
Just downstream, Shayne Swingle found the ducks had bulked up.
“It looked like a few definitely were bigger,” he said. “There’s a lot of cheating going on. I think it’s definitely on its way to being bad ” almost as bad as
The Vail-Eagle Valley Rotary Club, which organizes the duck race, seems to be looking the other way.
“We don’t test them,” said duck registrar Leah O’Brien. “Maybe next year, if we find one that’s huge.”
Duck Race Chairman John Knauf is taking a harder line to fight the substance-abusing trend.
“We had to throw out entries by Barry Bonds and Floyd Landis,” Knauf said. “We did have to do a major inquiry.
“The problem is duck steroids are sometimes found in a few algae. Up until this point it was legal, but it can be a real problem.”
One thing good came out of the race. Knauf estimated more than $110,000, some of which is used to pay for costs, was raised to send Eagle County kids to
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Lindsey Vonn no longer has a home in Vail, but a big piece of her heart will always remain here.