Vladek Lacina

* 1949  

  • “Rowing enabled me to meet my life partner – my wife Vladimíra. I met her in the rowing club Blesk because army clubs had been only for men, obviously. We got married after six years of dating, in 1975. And so I went to the Olympics in Montreal as a married man; my wife was already about to have a baby. We maintained the rowing tradition in the family as she is also a rower. She had some successes; she was even a national team member for a certain part of her career. Her contribution to my own career was indispensable; she enabled me to pursue my career even at later age when I also had to have a normal job. She took responsibility for the whole family and took care of my first and second son. My first son is deaf, so she had to deal with a lot of additional concerns in this regard. She is the treasure of my life. Without her I would have never finished my career the way I did.”

  • „The question of doping is a very controversial one. It is again being re-opened today in relation to the successes of socialist athletes. Back then, experts as well as non-exerts like me considered rowing as a sports discipline not apt for doping. For rowing, one needs strength and stamina, with stamina being the more important part. The chemical labs back then were not able to manage that. Rowing was considered the inviolable sport. Nevertheless, we were at times offered unauthorized means to improve our performance, officially as well as non-officially. They said it would be under “medical assistance”, but we did not really know how the doctors controlled the process. For moral reasons, I and most of my colleagues refused it. I also had my own solution. My mother got to know an endocrinologist, whose daughter was a top-level athlete and was subject to some pressure to do doping, as well. This doctor had been taking my blood and sending it for examination every month for several years. Thus I could have been sure that my career was never to be compromised. In fact, because of the collective nourishment, we could have never been sure about not in-taking anabolics unconsciously. And this was the only one and in my opinion also an efficient way of preventing it.”

  • “1984 meant for me and a lot of athletes a crucial breach and an attack on the Olympic spirit. Nobody told us in advance there would be no Olympic Games for us. All the money and efforts of athletes, trainers and officials was being invested in the preparation. They started to address the issue only two months before departure. The more brutal it was. All the people who were motivated to the maximum and who gave all to the preparation suddenly found out one month before leaving that there were to be no Olympics for them, that they could not participate for reasons which are banal and apparently substitutive and that they had become a part of some political game. I and a number of my colleagues started to reflect for the first time on to what extent the representation of a socialist state is not only a private issue of an athlete. One had become a part of a bigger plan and a game which was not honest. I have never thought about this before. Of course I had been thinking about how could I possibly represent socialist Czechoslovakia when my father was imprisoned at uranium mines for ten years. But I thought of it as if my father had made up for me. That, in a way, by becoming a member of the social elite at that time, a top-level athlete and a national team member, I collected a debt the regime owed me. I don’t know if it was the right way to conceive it. Nevertheless, the Olympics in Los Angeles opened the eyes of many of those, who have not had such an experience before. “

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 20.03.2014

    duration: 01:24:01
    media recorded in project Sports Stories of the 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

“Through sports, I collected the debt the communist regime owed me.”

Vladek Lacina with a bronze medal from quadruple scull, Summer Olympics of 1976 in Montreal
Vladek Lacina with a bronze medal from quadruple scull, Summer Olympics of 1976 in Montreal
photo: archiv pamětníka

Vladek Lacina was born on the 25th of June 1949 in Prague into a family with strong rowing tradition. Both his mother, a Ravensbrück concentration camp survivor, and his father, a political prisoner (mukl) were forced to work at the Jáchymov uranium mines for ten years. His parents always served as Vladek’s moral idols. It was them who motivated him to do sports and eventually introduced him to rowing. He started to train in the Prague rowing club VK Blesk, later transferring to the Army club of Dukla Praha. He represented Czechoslovakia at several World Rowing Championships and three Summer Olympics while switching constantly between the disciplines: double, quadruple, and single scull. He brought home a bronze medal from the Summer Olympics of 1976, in 1972 in Munich he ended up sixth and in 1980 in Moscow he ranked fourth. Together with Josef Straka, he won numerous medals in double scull at World Rowing Championships throughout the 1970’s. He consistently refused to take anabolics and had regularly his blood voluntarily tested to avoid their unconscious consumption. He opposed the Eastern Bloc boycott of the Olympic Games of 1984 which were taking place in Los Angeles. After that, he gradually concluded his professional career.