Some say there’s no such thing as a natural champion. As a sports fan I hope they’re wrong, but with cases like the ones in this list post popping up more and more often I’m beginning to suspect they’re correct!
The world of sport is a highly competitive, all-or-nothing, high stakes game where milliseconds can make the difference between going down in history and being rained on with money or being forgotten forever and living a life where you never reached the top of your game.
It’s easy to see why some give into the temptation, especially when they suspect that the guy who IS winning is doing it.
Nonetheless, giving into the temptation to take PED’s is against the inherent spirit of sport – that one should win by being the best and by fair play alone. That’s why these champions among others who have been caught draw the ire of the disillusioned public who placed their hopes and dreams in them.
9 Sports Doping Scandals Fans Won’t Forget
Lance Armstrong – Cycling
I thought about not including Lance in this list because so much has been written about him already but then I said to myself, how can you compile a list of sports doping scandals without giving him a mention? It’s like talking about social media and not mentioning Facebook.
When thinking about Lance, Jet’s song – Oh, look what you’ve done – always springs to mind – especially this chorus:
“Oh, look what you’ve done
You’ve made a fool of everyone
Oh well, it seems like such fun
Until you lose what you had won”
So, Lance Armstrong; icon, idol, adored by millions. This man is the stuff of legend – battled back from a potentially fatal case of metastatic testicular cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 1995, to go on and win the Tour de France seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005.
He gave hope and inspiration to millions, he had achieved something which did not seem humanly possible – and as it turns out, it wasn’t! Armstrong was named as the ringleader in one of the sport’s most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programs ever.
In 2012, a US Anti-Doping Agency investigation concluded that Armstrong had used P.E.D.s and he was later stripped of every victory he earned post 1998 which included his seven tour titles.
Ben Johnson – Athletics
Thanks a lot, YOU BASTARD! was the Ottawa Citizen’s headline just two days after Johnson stormed to victory in the 100m at the Seoul Summer Olympics.
I, like millions of other people around the globe, sat down to watch this race. Johnson Vs Lewis, Canada Vs the USA, two athletes who hated one another, the scene was set for what would be a defining moment in the history of this sport.
Johnson blasted out of the blocks faster than a bullet from a 9mm pistol, Lewis, famed for coming on strong in the second 50m, was a few metres down by the 30 mark and the gap was growing. 9.79 seconds after the gun had sounded, it was all over, and Canada was buzzing. Johnson had done it!
Fast forward 48 hours and the shock horror, Johnson’s urine sample had tested positive for the banned substance, stanozolol – an anabolic steroid. Stripped of his gold medal and world record, Johnson was a disgraced hero who had let millions of supporters down.
That infamous race has now been dubbed ‘The dirtiest race in history’ with 6 of the 8 competitors having tested positive at some point in their career – even America’s golden boy, Carl Lewis, tested positive for stimulants during the US Olympic trials.
Johnson has since admitted that he was taking steroids for 7 years but he has always claimed that the 1988 Seoul Olympic test was tampered with. Johnson’s coach at the time has also questioned this issue by claiming that Johnson did not like taking stanozolol because it made his body feel tight but instead preferred to use furazabol. Johnson believes to this day that a beer he was drinking after the race to help him urinate was spiked by a member of the Lewis camp.
Michelle Smith de Bruin – Swimming
This is a very interesting story of ‘Did she?’ or ‘Didn’t she?’
Smith rose to stardom after her heroics at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where she won 3 gold medals and 1 bronze, making her Ireland’s most successful Olympian to date.
While never directly proven, there were always accusations surrounding her that she was using P.E.D.s during this golden period of her career. Questions about how she managed to change from an average swimmer, who was ranked 90th in the world for the 400m, to be a world-beater, who was now ranked number 1. This dramatic rise up the rankings took a mere 3 years and at what is regarded as a relatively late age for a swimmer. Her case probably wasn’t helped by the fact that her coach at the time, the athlete Erik de Bruin, was serving a ban for a doping offence.
Then in 1998, Smith was banned by FINA for four years for tampering with her urine sample using alcohol. Smith appealed but FINA produced evidence that she had indeed taken a metabolic precursor of testosterone by the name of Androstenedione and the ban was upheld.
This black mark in her book will always lead people to question was she using during those famous Olympic victories or was it simply the luck of the Irish?
Marion Jones – Athletics
No, I’ve never taken P.E.D.s, No never, not once. This was the story Marion “Junkie” Jones kept telling the world throughout her career. Perhaps, like most lies, if you say if often enough you start to believe it yourself.
But, in the end, all was unearthed and she came clean to the fact that she wasn’t ‘clean’. Jones was named in the BALCO investigation by her former husband C.J. Hunter as one of many top athletes who was using EPO, which was a modern, designer-steroid that was undetectable by drug screening methods at the time.
Hunter told the investigators that Jones had been using steroids for years, long before the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and he had often seen her injecting substances into her stomach.
Although at the time of this investigation Jones, under oath, denied taking P.E.D.s, a year later her guilt must have got the better of her and she confessed to lying under oath and admitted that she had been a frequent user of the needle during her career. With this admission, Jones was stripped of the 3 golds and 2 bronze medals she won at the 2000 Sydney games and will go down in history as the most high-profile woman athlete to be shamed as a cheat.
Alex Rodriguez – Baseball
A trend is developing here. We have another, no, never, not me, Mr Clean I am. Oh, thinking about, there was this time, it was a long time ago, does that still count? That I, err, maybe, well actually, did.
A-Rod as he is commonly known was, and still is, one of the biggest names in baseball having played the majority of his career for the New York Yankees. Having hit more than 680 home runs and racked up a list of various records and achievements which stretch the length of my arm – A-Rod was the man every boy wanted to be when they were ‘at bat’.
However, A-Rod turned into A-Roid. Following years of rumours and whispers which were growing ever louder, Rodriguez finally admitted that he had been on the juice. This led to the MLB banning him for the entire 2014 season. He has returned to professional baseball in 2015 and has been okay – that’s my limited baseball knowledge speaking there.
Sadly, after such an admission, most fans of the game feel cheated and have not welcomed him back with the most open of arms. He is frequently booed and some have even asked for his records to be removed because of his past actions. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Justin Gatlin – Athletics
Justin Gatlin is a bit of a pantomime villain these days. Having first tested positive for amphetamines in 2001, he was given a 2 year ban by the IAAF. Gatlin appealed, stating it was due to medication which he had been taking since he was a child and he was reinstated after only serving 1 year.
We can let that one slide I suppose, sounds plausible but then in 2006 his name appears on the drug cheat radar again when he tested positive for what is believed to have been testosterone – though this has not been confirmed exactly.
This led to an immediate 4 year ban and his then world record of 9.77 seconds beginning erased from history. In athletics, if an athlete is caught twice then the punishment is a lifetime ban but due to Gatlin’s first appeal beginning successful, the IAAF only counted this as his first strike – to many this didn’t sit well and they thought he shouldn’t be allowed to compete ever again.
He returned and was just as quick, perhaps a little quicker which again with his past actions raised an eyebrow or two. It was down to Usain Bolt to keep the integrity of the sport in tact. First he beat him at the London Olympics in 2012, which most expected him to but then came the 2015 World Championships. Bolt had been injured for much of the season and Gatlin was running quicker than he has ever done before. Surely, this would be his time, a victory for athletics Mr Bad. Bolt, the legend, had other ideas. While looking a little rusty in the heats, he showed some improvement in the semis. The final was billed as ‘Good Vs Evil’, ‘Clean Vs Drug Cheat’ and the gun sounded. Bolt flew out of his blocks and never looked back – twice banned, Gatlin was beaten, thrashed and athletics was saved …. for now!
Juventus – Football
Sounds like something from East German in the 1970s but Juventus Football Club, notably their club doctor, Riccardo Agricola, led a systematic drug performance enhancing program at the club in the mid 1990s.
During this period, Juventus achieved fantastic success, winning 3 Serie A titles and 1 UEFA Champions League crown. However, upon being raided by investigators it was found that the club’s first aid kit had more supplies in it than your average third-world hospital. In total 281 different types of drugs were found, although it is not known how many, if any, were on the banned substances list.
All this resulted in Agricola being sentenced to 22 months in prison for supplying Juve players with P.E.D.s which included the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO). Does this tarnish the records and achievements of the club during this golden era? Of course it does and it’s very saddening to know that a whole group of 20-30 players can be manipulated so easily to all be willing to break the rules and cheat their way to victory
Kostas Kenteris & Katerina Thanou – Athletics
I’ve included these two on my list just because of the great lengths they went to in order to avoid peeing in a bottle. However, I will state the pair were never found guilty of testing positive for any banned substances.
Still, missing 3 drug tests in the summer of 2004 leading up to their home Olympics in Athens is a little suspicious, do you think? The third missed test was a day prior to the game’s opening ceremony. Both athletes were due to give a sample but never showed up, later news broke that they had been involved in a motorcycle accident and were being treated in hospital.
Oh no, what bad luck, I do hope they are okay. How unfortunate, both stood a really good chance of winning some medals, quite possibly gold, in front of their home crowd. Then further news filtered through, there was no accident, what’s going on? This was all staged to avoid giving a sample, but why, if you are clean? The two athletes were criminally charged with making false statements and forced to withdraw from their home Olympics for what was described to be “in the best interests of the country”.
Well, I don’t know about you but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s most likely a duck. What do you think?
Anderson Silva – MMA
It wouldn’t be fair to conduct a list of drug cheats without having at least one MMA fighter on it – let’s be honest, how many normal people want to step inside a cage and get kneed numerous times in the head? I, for one, wouldn’t unless that is I was on something that made me feel like the incredible hulk.
Anderson ‘the Spider’ Silva was one of the UFC’s top fighters. He ruled the middle weight division like Idi Amin ruled Uganda – he was fearless and for a long period unchallenged.
Sadly, his legacy of greatness has now been called into question after he tested positive for not one but two anabolic steroids after his victory over Nick Diaz in January 2015. News then came to light that Silva had tested positive a few weeks prior for anti-anxiety medication which merely compounded the issue
Silva argued that a tainted sexual enhancement drug which a friend gave him while in Thailand was the cause of his test failure but this was rejected by the commission and he was banned for 1 year.
That leaves us with the question, was Anderson Silva’s whole career a flop or just his penis between the sheets? I’m not going to ask him to find out so we may never know!