All of the Shorter children buried a ton of emotions during their childhoods. Frank blurted out a piece of the story a couple of times in public as an adult, but finally let the full truth come out in a shocking “Runner’s World” article only a few years ago.
Running became a refuge for the teen-aged Frank, as he was out of the house and away from any confrontations with his father. He writes that after dealing with the emotional pain of his home life, tough training sessions didn’t seem too difficult to him. Shorter became an NCAA champion at Yale. After graduation, he briefly went to medical school but continued to train. The workouts led to several national championships, and the gold medal in Munich.
Shorter later turned up at another Olympics - the 1976 Games in Montreal. There he ran the marathon, and found himself unexpectedly competing with an unknown in Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany. Shorter was two minutes faster in the marathon in Montreal than he was in Munich, but finished second when Cierpinski put on a burst near the end of the race that almost seemed supernatural.
That always bothered Shorter, and after the end of the Cold War he checked with German sources about the drug-doping program that was rumored to be taking place there. Sure enough, Shorter found evidence that Cierpinski took performance-enhancing drugs - and the East German probably was still doing so when he won another gold in 1980. Shorter eventually worked with the federal government to start a drug-testing program that tried to clean up the sport.