A for Athlete

Avoid the use of recreational drugs, performance enhancing drugs and steroids. See: Drugs

A timeline of performance-enhancing drugs in sports[]

original from March 11, 2008, Compiled by Rebecca Shore, SI.com

1886 Twenty-four-year-old Welsh cyclist Arthur Linton dies during a race from Bordeaux to Paris; though the cause of death is reported as typhoid fever, he is believed to have taken trimethyl, a stimulant.

1889 French physician Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, 72, extracts testicular fluid from dogs and guinea pigs and injects it into himself. He announces his findings at a scientific meeting in Paris, claiming to feel years younger with renewed energy.

1935 German scientists, led by chemist Adolf Butenandt, develop anabolic steroids as a way to treat hypogonadism -- testosterone deficiency. Butenandt would later win the Nobel Prize for his cumulative findings in sex hormones.

1940-45 According to anecdotal accounts, the Nazis test anabolic steroids on prisoners, Gestapos and Hitler himself. Testosterone and its analogs are used by German soldiers to promote aggressiveness and physical strength. Retrospectively, according to his physician, Hitler's mental state toward the end of his life exhibits characteristics that some scientists associate with heavy steroid use: mania, acute paranoid psychoses, overly aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal ideologies.

1945-47 Anabolic steroids are used to help reverse the wasting effects of war and concentration-camp imprisonment.

1954 As the U.S.S.R. begins to dominate the sport of powerlifting, a Soviet team doctor allegedly reveals his team's use of testosterone injections to U.S. weightlifting doctor John Ziegler; Ziegler begins work on creating a refined synthesis technique that would produce a compound with the muscle-building benefits of testosterone without androgenic side effects, such as prostate enlargement.

1958 Ziegler's anabolic steroid -- methandrostenolone -- is released by Ciba Pharmaceuticals under the name Dianabol.

1960 Sports Illustrated publishes Our Drug-Happy Athletes by George Walsh, exposing the use of amphetamines ("pep pills"), tranquilizers, cocaine and other drugs in elite sports.

1969 Sports Illustrated produces a three-part investigation about performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Sources predict that the use of such drugs will eventually explode into an epidemic. (Says former Los Angeles Dodgers team doctor Robert Kerlan, "The excessive and secretive use of drugs is likely to become a major athletic scandal, one that will shake public confidence in many sports just as the gambling scandal tarnished the reputation of basketball.")

1973 East German women take home 10 of the 14 gold medals at the inaugural swimming world championships in Belgrade.

1975 The International Olympic Committee adds anabolic steroids to its list of banned substances.

1976 East German women swimmers win 11 of the 13 individual gold medals, setting eight world records, at the Montreal Olympics, the first to have drug testing.

1983 The governing body of the Pan Am Games in Caracas strips Chicago weightlifter Jeff Michels of three gold medals, and three other Latin American weightlifters of theirs, when they test positive for anabolic steroids. Thirteen other members of the U.S. track and field team then withdraw from the Games. Twenty-three medals, including 11 gold, are taken away.

1988 The high-profile rivalry between sprinters Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson comes to a head when Johnson posts a record-smashing time of 9.79 seconds in the 100 meters at the Seoul Olympics, shaving .14 of a second off the previous record. Johnson's time is deleted from record books and his gold medal stripped after the anabolic steroid Stanozol is detected in his urine sample.

1991 Twenty former East German coaches admit to administering anabolic steroids to some of their swimmers.

1990 The Anabolic Steroids Control Act is introduced by US Congress. It classifies steroids as a schedule III controlled substance, for which trafficking is now a felony, not a misdemeanor.

1992 NFL defensive end Lyle Alzado dies of brain cancer on May 14, 1992. The 43-year-old two-time All-Pro believed his disease was the result of more than two decades of steroid and HGH use (which, at its peak, cost him as much as $30,000 a year). Scientific research has yet to demonstrate a link between steroids or HGH and brain cancer.

1998 Suspicions surrounding Michelle Smith's quick rise to athletic stardom are further fueled when the Irish swimmer, who won three gold and a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, misses several drug tests. Smith, whose ascent in the sport came only after she began training with her husband, a discus thrower who is himself on probation for failing a drug test, later tries to dilute with whiskey her sample for a surprise drug test at her home. She is suspended for four years.

1998 Competition takes a backseat to scandal at the Tour de France when the Festina team is ejected from competition following team director Bruno Roussel's admission that he oversaw the provision of his team with performance-enhancing drugs. A stash of such substances, including erythropoietin (EPO), a substance that increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, is discovered in a search of the team masseur's car. Another six of the 21 teams voluntarily drop out of the Tour, citing unfair police tactics and mistreatment of participants. Over three weeks the initial field of 189 cyclists is reduced to fewer than 100. Richard Virenque, a Festina rider who confessed to using banned substances, is suspended from international competition for nine months.

1999 The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), an independent agency, is formed through the IOC.

2000 Urinalysis tests are improved to detect EPO, but blood doping -- the injection of one's own red blood cells -- remains undetectable. Potential risks of blood doping include blood clots, strokes and thromboses.

2002 Ken Caminiti, who retired from baseball after the 2001 season, admits in the June 3 issue of Sports Illustrated that he was using steroids when he won the 1996 National League MVP award, adding, "I've made a ton of mistakes. I don't think using steroids is one of them." He estimates that at least half of his fellow big leaguers are regular juicers.

2003 A person identifying himself only as a "high-profile" track coach fingers the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) and its founder, Victor Conte, as the maker and distributor of an undetectable steroid being used by several athletes. More than 30 elite athletes are ultimately subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in San Francisco. Among those called to the stand are Olympic track and field champion Marion Jones and major leaguers Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.

2004 Caminiti dies of a heart attack at 41 on Oct. 10, 2004.

2004 Based on lawsuits filed and documents of East German police that were revealed, The New York Times estimates that 500 to 2,000 of the 10,000 East German athletes involved in that country's doping program are suffering severe health problems including liver tumors, heart disease, testicular or breast cancer, infertility, depression, eating disorders, miscarriages or birth defects.

2005 Jose Canseco's tell-all book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, & How Baseball Got Big, is released early due to a massive wave of publicity. In it, the retired outfielder speaks of his own rampant steroid use starting at age 20 and of alleged use by home run kings Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

2005 Former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski admits to using steroids obtained through Conte.

2006 Game of Shadows by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada is published in March. The book chronicles the BALCO investigation, pointing a finger at Bonds even as he chases Hank Aaron's career home run record. (Bonds denies ever knowingly using steroids or other illegal performance enhancers.)

2006 Former East German athletes are awarded monetary compensation in December for health problems resulting from the doping experiments of the 1970s and '80s. Each of the 167 former athletes receives $12,210 and agrees to halt legal action. The money comes from the German Olympic Sports Union, the German federal government and Jenapharm, the pharmaceuticals company that produced many of the drugs.

2007 Pro wrestler Chris Benoit; his wife, Nancy; and their seven-year-old son, Daniel, are found dead in their Fayetteville, Ga., home on June 25. Police rule the case a murder-suicide. Tests show 10 times the normal amount of testosterone in Benoit's body.

2006 On July 23 Floyd Landis wins the Tour de France. Landis moves up eight places in the final three days of the race, prompting Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc to deem it "the best performance in the modern history of the Tour."

2006 On July 27 Landis's Phonak team confirms that he has tested positive for high levels of testosterone. Landis contends that he won "fair and square."

2007 Bonds breaks Aaron's mark on Aug. 7 when he hits his 756th homer. At a postgame press conference Bonds says, "This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period."

2007 On Dec. 12 the International Olympic Committee strips Jones of the five medals (three gold, two bronze) she won in Sydney. In October, Jones had admitted using BALCO's designer steroid "the Clear" from 2001 to '02.

2007 The Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball is released on Dec. 13. Drawing the most attention are allegations that Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte used performance-enhancing drugs.

2008 Albany's Times Union breaks a story claiming that a number of hip-hop stars, including Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Wyclef Jean, may have used or received prescribed shipments of steroids and HGH. A representative for Blige says that she has never used those substances; the others do not comment.

2008 Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee testify before the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. McNamee says he injected HGH and testosterone into Clemens on numerous occasions and Clemens denies it. The Justice Department begins an investigation into whether the seven-time Cy Young Award winner lied under oath.

2008 Greek weightlifting coach, Christos Iakovou gets suspended after 11 athletes test positive for doping.

2008 Michael Johnson agrees to give back his medal obtained on a relay with an athlete who is later found to have used drugs.

Headed into the 2008 Olympics[]

  • Adrian Lorde, president of the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization, criticized Jamaica (also known as JAM) Flag of Jamaica for not having enough doping tests. Mike Fennell dismissed that claim, saying 96 tests have been conducted on athletes in Jamaica (also known as JAM) Flag of Jamaica so far in 2008.

2008 Olympics[]

Belarusians appeal to win back Olympic medals[]


  • Fahey calls for release of Puerto evidence - 02/28/09 BARCELONA, Spain - The head of the World Anti-Doping agency called on a Spanish court to release evidence from cycling's largest doping investigation so that drug cheats can be punished.
  • Former Austrian ski coach arrested - 03/23/09 - Former Nordic skiing coach Walter Mayer of Austria (also known as AUT) Flag of Austria has been arrested on suspicion of selling doping substances three years after triggering a major doping scandal at the Turin Olympics.
  • Europe, WADA close on athletes' data deal - 05/06/09 - Europe and the World Anti-Doping Agency are set to finalize an agreement this weekend on one of the most contentious issues of the latest global anti-doping code.