Abortion admissions from American athlete Sanya Richards-Ross have raised a modern-day spectre of sport's bad old days of Eastern bloc steroids and blood doping.
In her book Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life, Richards-Ross reveals she had a pregnancy aborted the day before leaving for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won a gold medal in the 4x400m relay and bronze in the individual 400 metres.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated Now, she also claims every female athlete she knows has undergone an abortion.
While there is no suggestion these particular pregnancies and abortions were deliberate, abortion doping is a practice alleged to have been common in East Germany during the 1970s and '80s, confirms former Drug Free Sport NZ boss Graeme Steel.
Research suggests that hormonal and other changes during pregnancy do affect physical performance, with women producing a natural surplus of red blood cells during the first three months, increasing aerobic capacity.
Perhaps the most notable documented case of an athlete gaining possible benefit from pregnancy was Norwegian distance runner Ingrid Kristiansen, who won the 1983 Houston marathon five months after giving birth.
Even that example is flawed though - a woman's blood volume returns to normal within two months.
"[Abortion doping] was certainly something East Germany was accused of during their regime," says Steel, who stood down from his DFSNZ role earlier this year. "But I haven't seen any reference to recent examples.
"You have to be doubtful about how widespread this is, I suppose, and you would hope this would not be a deliberate ploy to get any advantage.
"There's never been an example of this in New Zealand that I can recall, although there have been stories about women who may have benefited from being in the early stages of pregnancy going into an event."
Abortion doping is very hard to test for and almost impossible to ban, since there is nothing illegal about pregnancy.
Richards-Ross claims the abortions in her circle of acquaintances were simply examples of ignorance, rather than conspiracy.
"I literally don't know another female track and field athlete who hasn't had an abortion and that's sad," said Richards-Ross, who would win the 400 metres at the 2012 London Olympics.
"For me, I'm hoping this will open up some discussions ... to help especially a lot of young women who were in my situation not experience what I did.
"At that time in your life, when you're in college, you don't feel comfortable talking to your mom, so a lot of the information you get is from your peers.
"It's going to sound silly to some people, but in our community, people don't want to take the pill because you put water weight on.
"And then people tell you when you're extremely fit, you can't get pregnant because our cycles are shorter, so there's a lot of miseducation that happens to young women in college, because we're educating ourselves."