After days of rumors, the governing body of The Cimmerian announced Tuesday that backup samples confirmed preliminary results showing the presence of tarlcaboterone, a state-of-the-art synthetic testosterone manufactured from liquified John Norman “Gor” novels, in the urine of [redacted], Rusty Burke, and Steven Tompkins, who respectively won the 2005 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place Hyrkanian Awards for best Howard essays. The delay in completing the carbon-isotope test used to detect tarlcaboterone, essayist growth hormone, and other banned performance boosters was blamed on the pressures inherent in producing 12 issues of The Cimmerian during the Howard Centennial.
Editor/publisher Leo Grin pronounced himself “heartsick—the timing could not be worse, with The Cimmerian just having notched a World Fantasy Convention ‘Special Award: Non-Professional’ nomination,” but emphasized that the 3 positive-testing 2005 winners, all of whom have repeatedly denied ever taking article-enhancing drugs, would be stripped of their helmeted-skull trophies and barred from competing in essayistic events everywhere “except possibly at Hippocampus Press.” Grin declined to speculate as to why Finn, Burke, and Tompkins might have risked their reputations, and tens of dollars in endorsement deals, but other Howard Studies insiders agreed to speak off the record.
Allegations have long swirled around Tompkins, who is known to enjoy movies with subtitles and, in the words of one REHupan, was “tiresomely supportive” of John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign. “You can’t tell me someone like that had enough natural testosterone to write a Hyrkanian-winning essay,” a long-time Howardist insisted. Instead of fighting to clear his name, Tompkins has fled to France, where he will adapt the Bran Mak Morn/King Kull story “Kings of the Night” into a live action Asterix/Obelix project.
Burke has attracted much less suspicion in the past, although a source who was unwilling to be interviewed at length because he had “to go slay some zooms” charged that Burke’s demeanor during a debate years back with current Weird Tales editor Darrell Schweitzer about L. Sprague de Camp’s Dark Valley Destiny’s Child was “excessively mildmannered and pushover-y, so he had to be doping when he came up with ‘Travels With Robert E. Howard.'”
For many it is Finn’s positive test results that are the most difficult to accept, and at an emotional press conference this morning the Texan was adamant that, while his essay “Fists of Robert E. Howard” was “virile as hell,” the testosterone he poured into its writing was “110% natural. The night before I pounded out the final draft, I re-read ‘Daughters of Feud.’ That’s all it was.”
Grin made it clear that all 2006 Cimmerian Award winners had been “tested so constantly, they might as well have been cathetered.”